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Access to early childhood education and childcare (ECEC) is important for promoting equal opportunities of children as well as for facilitating work-family balance of parents and especially labour market participation of mothers of small children.
The global financial crisis triggered a deep recession in 2008 and 2009, the deepest since the Great Recession of the early 1930s. In 2009, the EU's GDP dropped by 4.4%, and in 2014 it barely exceeded the level of 2008.
The economic crisis has put income inequality high on the political agenda. Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st century" made the topic also a subject of coffee breaks, while Wilkinson and Pickett's "The Spirit Level" illustrated how inequality is associated with various social ills in our societies.
Labour markets and social indicators in the EU continue to gradually improve, benefitting from the strengthening in economic activity, according to the latest edition of the Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.
Countries providing high quality jobs and effective social protection and investing in human capital have proved to be more resilient to the economic crisis. This is one of the main findings of the 2014 Employment and Social Developments in Europe Review, which has looked back to the legacy of the recession.
The European Commission and the World Bank have recently unveiled a report profiling the unemployed and inactive populations in six EU countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece).
The EU labour market is gradually recovering and, for the first time since 2011, GDP, employment and household incomes are growing. However, long-term unemployment is still increasing and the situation of households with low incomes has not improved.
The recent economic recovery has not yet been able to create new jobs and the social situation in the EU shows little signs of improvement so far, according to the European Commission's latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.
A significant increase in poverty among the working age population is one of the most tangible social consequences of the economic crisis. A gradual reduction of unemployment levels may not be enough to reverse this situation if wage polarisation continues, notably due to a rise in part-time work.
There are signs of fragile economic recovery, but economic growth is unlikely to be sustained unless it is inclusive and job rich, especially while labour market and social conditions remain extremely challenging and divergence between countries is growing, according to the September special edition of the EU Employment and Social Situation Review.