Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 16/11/2021

Making the social welfare state fit for the future: Commission launches new EU High-Level Group

The newly launched High-Level Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state in the EU met today for the first time. The Group will present recommendations on how to make social protection and welfare systems fit for the future.

Photo group of the high-level meeting group together with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit

The European welfare systems have helped our societies prosper and weather crises, but as the world changes, they also need to evolve. 

To do so, as announced in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the European Commission launched a High-Level Group to study the future of the welfare state, its financing and interconnections with the changing world of work, in light of mega trends such as:

  • demographic changes resulting in a shrinking workforce and an ageing population
  • transformations on the labour market accompanying the digital and green transitions, including the increase in non-standard forms of work
  • globalisation and the emergence of new risks

In its work, the High-Level Group will build on the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and consider the interaction between social protection systems and other welfare policies, such as education, social inclusion, disability, healthcare and long-term care.

By the end of 2022, the group will present a vision on how to reinforce European social protection and welfare systems in light of ongoing and upcoming challenges.

Ahead of meeting the High-level Group on Tuesday, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how important effective social protection and welfare systems are in order to cushion the economic and social blow of any crisis. Now, we must work on making the welfare state fit for the future. Our goal for the future of Europe is very clear: We must provide social protection to all, lift people out of poverty, reduce inequalities and empower all Europeans to fully contribute to society. I am looking forward to joining forces with this High-Level Group of Experts in our efforts to ensure a strong social Europe in the future.”

The High-Level Group consists of 12 members, bringing a wealth of expertise in the area of social protection and welfare states and related areas. The group is chaired by Ms Anna Diamantopoulou, former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, former Minister in Greece and currently president of Athens-based think tank DIKTIO.

The Chair shared her views on the challenges facing Europe and the role of the High-Level Group: “Developments in our century are largely defined by volatility and uncertainty. Fighting climate crisis, managing digital disruption, reaffirming the importance of social protection and the role of the State in upholding human dignity, are some of the major challenges facing Europe. Social protection is EU’s crown jewel. The role of the High-Level Group is to suggest innovative and out of the box approaches to reforming and reinforcing welfare systems Europe-wide so that they can adapt to changing and ever demanding realities.”

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