The 2021 edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review provides an up-to-date economic analysis of the steps the EU is taking towards a strong social Europe, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. This ESDE report shows that the social impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been uneven and diverse. Regional inequalities that already existed before the pandemic may have widened, according to the review. The 2021 ESDE highlights that in order not to jeopardise the success of the EU’s response to the pandemic crisis, a strong social dimension needs to accompany our economic recovery. Centred around evidence-based analysis, the review delves into how to achieve stronger social rights across the EU as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.