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) takes place after a period in which the European economy recovered from the economic crisis: 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. But are these developments reflected in the daily lives of Europeans? This question seems even more pressing as recently, the economic recovery seems to slow down.
Our new study „How are you doing, Europe? Mapping social imbalances in the EU” looks at six social challenges that we consider to be of particular importance across the EU in terms of decent living standards, good working conditions as well as equal opportunities and participation. The selection of topics is based on whether they are relevant for a large number of Europeans across different member states and regions and whether they have a direct impact that people may experience in their daily lives. We draw both on well-known sets of indicators and monitoring reports, as well as on a broad range of case studies that allow us to better understand the context in which different socio-economic groups across Europe are affected.
By shedding light on these aspects, we hope to contribute to the debate on how Europe is doing – and what is needed to make Europeans better off. The upcoming election of the European Parliament provides an excellent opportunity to put the question of what to do about social imbalances at the heart of a genuinely European debate.