2009 began amidst one of the worst economic crises experienced in Europe for 80 years. The credit crunch of autumn 2008 sent the real economy into freefall in most of the European Union Member States and led to restructuring measures, bankruptcies, redundancies and unemployment. Recovery plans, both national and European, were in place throughout the year in an effort to limit the damage. But this sequence of events will weigh heavily on the public finances of EU countries for years to come, having already resulted in fiscal restraint. This 2009 edition of Social developments in the European Union examines the ways in which the ‘European social model’ has cushioned the blow – more so in some instances than others. This model is compared with that of the United States; the EU’s role in multilateral financial governance (in particular at the G20) and within international organisations (such as the ILO) is also assessed. In addition, this volume analyses the specific impact of the crisis on the Union’s social policies: employment strategy, pensions funding, social dialogue, social inclusion, etc.