This volume is the 20th anniversary edition of Social policy in the EU: state of play. Coordinated by Cécile Barbier and Philippe Pochet, the first edition covered the year 1999 and was published as a collaborative project between the European Social Observatory (OSE) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) in 2000.

This anniversary edition looks back at the main developments in EU social policymaking over the past two decades. Key questions addressed in this volume include:

  • what was the place of the social dimension during the financial and economic crisis?
  • Who has driven, and who has braked, EU social policymaking?
  • Which instruments does the EU have at its disposal for ‘market correcting’ policies?
  • And last but not least, what are the next steps in the further implementation of the EU’s social dimension, especially in the context of the European Pillar of Social Rights?

The editors provide also an analytical chronology of the main developments of the EU’s social dimension over the past twenty years and summarise the key messages put across by the authors of the book’s chapters regarding key EU social policy areas. The chapter also discusses some of the recent debates on the EU’s social agenda under the new von der Leyen European Commission, while providing policy recommendations drawing on the analyses presented in this book.

Despite many optimistic statements by the EU leaders, social policy remains a ‘nice to have’ (if and when the economic and political context allows for it), not a ‘must have’.

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Table of contents



Philippe Pochet: Chapter 1 - Twenty years of the publication ‘Social policy in the European Union’: what have we learned?

Chapitre 1_3.pdf

Amy Verdun and Valerie D’Erman: Chapter 2 - Two decades of change in Europe: post-crisis social policymaking in the EU

Chapitre 2_4.pdf

Sacha Garben: Chapter 3 - Balancing fundamental social and economic rights in the EU: in search of a better method

Chapitre 3_3.pdf

Jean-Paul Tricart: Chapter 4 - Once upon a time there was the European social dialogue

Chapitre 4_4.pdf

Bart Vanhercke : Chapter 5 - From the Lisbon strategy to the European Pillar of Social Rights: the many lives of the Social Open Method of Coordination

Chapitre 5_2.pdf

Roberta Guerrina: Chapter 6 - From Amsterdam to Lisbon and beyond: reflections on twenty years of gender

Chapitre 6_2.pdf

Rob Cornelissen and Frederic De Wispelaere: Chapter 7 - Sixty years of European social security coordination: achievements, controversies and challenges

Chapitre 7_2.pdf

Paolo Graziano and Laura Polverari: Chapter 8 - The social impact of EU cohesion policy

Chapitre 8_1.pdf

Bart Vanhercke, Slavina Spasova, Dalila Ghailani and Philippe Pochet: Conclusions: the twists and turns of two decades of EU social policymaking


Boris Fronteddu and Denis Bouget: Twenty years of European social policy: key events from 1999 to 2018

Faits marquants 1999-2018.pdf

Key events 2018

Faits marquants 2018 Web only.pdf

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