Published on 10th February 2023
The European welfare systems have helped societies prosper and weather crises, but as the world changes, they also need to evolve. How to make them fit for the future in light of mega-trends such as demographic changes resulting in a shrinking workforce and an ageing population, the digital and green transitions, the increase in diverse forms of work, globalisation and the emergence of new risks?
Reflecting on this question that is fundamental to ensuring decent work was the mission of the EU High-Level Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state which concluded in February 2023. In its final report, the High-Level Group recognizes that there are no one size-fits-all solutions for the diverse European welfare states and puts forward a list of 21 recommendations to modernise and reinforce the welfare state.
Several of these recommendations are shared by the World Employment Confederation-Europe. The private employment services sector has been a long-time defender of social protection for all, regardless of the form of work or type of contract. Notably through social dialogue, innovative solutions for training and social protection in the agency work sector have been adopted across Europe.
Relevant recommendations supported by WEC-Europe include:
The EU High-Level Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state was initiated at the end of 2021 by the European Commission as announced in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. The World Employment Confederation-Europe has followed and contributed to its work through regular dialogue with EU policymakers and promotion of the social innovation on social protection implemented in the sector.
The WEC Social Impact Report 2020 had demonstrated that in 90% of the countries analysed, agency workers and workers in other forms of contractual employment enjoy full statutory access to unemployment and sickness benefits. Partial access to those benefits is available in the remaining countries. Self-employed workers are significantly more vulnerable than workers with an employment contract.