With the summer holidays approaching for most of us, you might be looking forward to catch up on some readings that you did not have the time to read during the busy working year dominated by another Covid wave and its uncertainties on the work floor and in society as a whole.

The ETUI has continued working on its core areas of expertise but has also broadened somewhat the scope of its work on the critical topics of environment and digitalisation. These two intertwined research areas will be at the very centre of our work in the coming years and could potentially generate new research topics for our agenda. 

On the issue of environment, we have recently published a working paper by Eloi Laurent, which sheds light on the pressing problem of the clear growth-dependency of European welfare states at a time of weak growth prospects and strong criticisms of growth. The author insists on the need to turn the welfare state into a ‘social-ecological state’ in the face of the growing human impact of climate change and to develop social-ecological protection. This paper has been one of the very valuable contributions made at the ETUI hybrid conference “The nexus of climate change and welfare: towards a new concept of the welfare state”. On the conference webpage, you can not only re-watch the whole conference but also download many related documents.

On the issue of digitalisation Aida Ponce has just published a Policy Brief on the AI regulatory package which claims to be putting fundamental rights at the top of its approach but is dominated by market-based concerns and puts citizens and workers’ rights only at the second place. Another working paper by Andrea Szalavetz argues that the beneficial effects of digital technologies materialise only if employees are skilled enough to be upskilled.

Climate change adaptation and the domination of new technologies could deepen the existing inequalities, create new ones, and require a thought-out response by the political decision-takers, and well informed social partners. This is why the issue of inequality will be once again the leading theme of the upcoming Benchmarking Working Europe publication, which is expected to come out in December.

In the green and digital transition context, each member state is expected to submit a national recovery plan with two targets: devoting 37% of this budget to greening and 20% to digital. Against this background, the concept of strategic autonomy is becoming a new catchphrase for the EU with the potential of becoming the spill of a new European Union paradigm. You can read about that in another ETUI research paper by Eric Van den Abeele which aims at reviewing the recent emergence on the European scene of the concept and the consequences it may have for the EU’s action.

All these new topics on our agenda do not prevent us from following and working on our core trade union research agenda. A new publication provides an overview of recent literature on support for securing compliance and better practice in occupational safety and health (OSH) in the changing world of work in advanced market economies. Another one assesses the Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) and the Porto Social Summit concluding that much more is needed to give the EPSR greater capacity to effectively influence EU and Member States’ policies. The European Social Dialogue Database has been put online. Based on the data, Christophe Degryse has published a Working paper looking into whether European social dialogue has played any useful part in the exceptional economic and social situation created by the pandemic.  Take also a look at the ETUI strike map, which has undergone a revamp and is now much more practical to use.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of everything which the ETUI has published or worked on during the past year, but it is probably already enough reading for your summer holidays. Most of all, I hope you will be able to relax and stay healthy, and embark with new energy on a new working season in the fall, which will hopefully take place in a better epidemiological situation.

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