How are you doing, Europe? Mapping social imbalances in the EU.

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Publication Date 2019
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At the end of May, Europeans will elect a new European Parliament and soon after a new European Commission will begin its five-year mandate. The political changing of the guard in the European Union (EU) comes at a time of economic recovery: per capita income has been growing by about two percent annually for the last three years, and growth has recently returned to every EU member state. Unemployment has been falling across the EU in the last year and now stands at an average of 6.7 percent – marking a new all-time low. It seems that Europe is doing well: the economic tide is rising and, for the first time since the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, all boats are lifting. Getting to grips with social conditions across the EU. Yet, when we start digging deeper to understand how Europeans are experiencing the social and economic progress that the headline figures suggest, the picture blurs. There are great differences in social conditions across EU countries and regions, and the global economic and financial crisis, which led to a double-dip recession in the EU between 2008 and 2013, has in many areas added to the disparities within and between European societies. These ruptures in the social fabric across Europe become particularly apparent if one looks beyond aggregate economic and labour market figures and takes into account other factors that determine the quality of living and working in Europe: the availability and quality of work, gender equality, access to services such as healthcare, or the chance to live and work anywhere in the EU.

We set out to get a better understanding of social conditions across the EU. The report has three aims: First, we provide new – and perhaps surprising – perspectives on wellknown social challenges in Europe. Second, we zoom in on concrete examples of living and working conditions to illustrate how they directly impact upon Europeans’ daily lives. Third, drawing on many case studies collected across different countries and regions, we provide a nuanced portrait of the – often very disparate – social conditions across the EU today.

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