The importance of social partners during crisis management and the battle against inequality.

VS – 08/2021

The EC published its 2021 report on employment and social developments in Europe on 5th July. The subject of the analysis was the manifold effects that the covid-19 crisis has had on the working world and social participation. The report showed that the extensive measures implemented at EU and national levels have made a significant contribution towards cushioning the impact of the crisis on employment and inequality. The importance of the rapid expansion of short-term working arrangements was specifically highlighted.

People in Europe were affected very differently by the effects of the pandemic

The covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the labour market and incomes throughout Europe. However, occupations where working from home is not problematic have seen an increase in employment. In contrast, employment in occupations that do not involve working from home had declined. Exceptions to this were activities in the medical, educational and social sectors.

Regional imbalances

Similarly, the consequences for employment varied greatly from region to region. Rural areas and the Mediterranean regions in particular suffered significant job losses. In general, regions with high productivity and a high level of skilled people proved to be much more resilient, therefore regional imbalances might well have been intensified by the covid-19 pandemic.

If we look at age and employment statuses, the impact of the pandemic was felt particularly by young people and workers in temporary or non-standard employment. The pandemic has also exposed existing gender inequalities and role patterns.

The importance of the social partners and social dialogue

One focus of this year's report was on the role played by the social partners during the pandemic. Societies with strong social partners and a strong culture of social dialogue have proven to be far more integrative and resilient. According to the authors of the report, their importance will continue to increase in the future. A broad social consensus is needed to actively shape the upcoming changes in the working world.

Social security is working

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of efficient and broad-based social security systems. The social security systems in Europe are "working" and they have been able to make up for the temporary slump in wages and self-employed income, especially among the lower income groups. At the same time, gaps in access to social security benefits, as seen by the self-employed in Germany, were painfully exposed.