This report from the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) examines (sub)national social protection and inclusion policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis in the 27 EU Member States, the UK, and the 7 candidate and potential candidate countries. It reveals an overall rapid reaction through the introduction of (mostly) temporary measures - primarily relaxing eligibility conditions, increasing benefit levels and creating new ad hoc social and job protection schemes. These emergency measures helped avert a massive social crisis and some would have seemed impossible one year previously. Yet they also highlighted the weaknesses and gaps in existing social protection and inclusion policies, and the pressing need to address these. Although these measures were the main tools used to tackle the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, the report underlines their limited transformative potential for countries’ social protection systems. It proposes a series of specific actions that could usefully be considered at national and/or EU level.
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