Until the start of 2020, the EU had been benefiting from continued economic growth and record-high employment, which lead to widespread improvements in the social situation in Europe. However, the period of steady improvement came to an end in the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across Europe, leading to unprecedented disruptions in economic, employment and social conditions.
The report of the Social Protection Committee provides an overview of the decisive action taken by Member States to protect employment, income and access to services through a variety of measures. However, in spite of the important measures adopted, unemployment in the EU is rising and there is a significant risk of widening economic and social disparities between and within the Member States.
In this context, the report highlights that measures to address the longer-term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic may still need to be combined with targeted containment and support measures in the short term. Member States should continue pursuing their reform agendas, addressing also the gaps unveiled by the current crisis, and enhance the resilience of social protection systems, thus underpinning well-being and social cohesion in the longer-term. The European Pillar of Social Rights should continue to guide Member States’ reform efforts and its principles should continue to be systematically implemented.
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