Skip to content

Working group

Sixth session of the EUI Social Investment Working Group

Add to calendar 2023-01-18 16:00 2023-01-18 18:00 Europe/Rome Sixth session of the EUI Social Investment Working Group Sala del Capitolo Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


18 January 2023

16:00 - 18:00 CET


Sala del Capitolo

Badia Fiesolana

In the sixth session of the EUI Social Investment Working Group, Luca Cigna will present his research on trade unions and the politics of poverty in Italy, while Robin Huguenot-Noel will present his research on childcare and female participation in the labour market.

'Branching paths: Trade unions and the politics of poverty in Italy (1980-2020)'

Luca Cigna (Doctoral researcher, EUI) 

Paper discussed by: Stefano Ronchi (Post-doctoral fellow at University of Milan)


This paper takes a closer look at transformations in the Italian labour movement from the 1990s onwards, and more precisely the dynamics of (informal) concertation between unions and governmental actors in the field of social assistance. As a result of structural and political barriers, Italy was the last country in Europe to introduce a minimum income scheme (MIS) as late as in 2018 (Jessoula & Natili, 2020). Trade unions were historically opposed to this measure until 2013, year in which they formalized an endorsement for a MIS by joining the so-called Alliance against Poverty . As they moved from antagonists to protagonists in the reform process (Korpi, 2006), their contribution was a necessary factor for its introduction. I argue that this landmark volte-face draws from ideational and cognitive changes in unions’ social policy strategies in the last three decades. The main contribution of this paper is to show that the different positioning of union confederations towards labour market reforms led to different opportunity structures, and in turn diverging strategies, on anti-poverty policy. In the early 2000s, the traditionally left-wing organization CGIL experienced a tension between its ideological legacy of inclusive unionism and the consequences of dualization. Whereas its discourse has always been focused on emancipating the working class as a whole, cultural opposition to non-standard work (and the misguided ambition to slow down flexibilization) arguably blocked institutional avenues to a MIS. After 2008, however, the dramatic emergence of in-work poverty and interaction with students’ movements spurred union leaders to reconsider their positions towards income insecurity.


'Affordable childcare and women participation in the labour market'

Robin Huguenot-Noel (Doctoral researcher, EUI) 

Paper discussed by: Francesco Corti (Associate Research Fellow at CEPS)


The right to affordable childcare has been an EU priority for decades. Back in March 2002, Member States already agreed Barcelona targets, which set the goal to provide childcare to at least 33% of children under 3 years of age and to at least 90% of children between 3 years old and the mandatory school age by 2010. Today, while this objective has been reached for the EU as a whole, some Member States are still lagging behind. As part of the European care strategy launched in 2021, the European Commission took the initiative to revise the Barcelona targets to help further promote the equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men, while addressing additional dimensions, such as affordability, accessibility and quality of ECEC. In this context, this quarterly review zooms in on the situation of working mothers, assessing affordability of childcare, while considering trends in terms of childcare uptake and employment. 

The analysis is structured as follows. First it pins on the issue of affordable childcare in the wider policy context and review EU goals and initiatives in connected areas. The following section reviews the available evidence on the kind of policy mixes helping to reconcile work and family arrangements, and zooms in on the role of affordable childcare. Third comes the assessment of the affordability of formal, non-parental childcare by looking at the evolution of net childcare costs (that is: after taxes and benefits) and other childcare-related incentives for different households across the income distribution. Finally, these findings come together in perspective with the evolution of childcare participation and labour market participation and are used to inform ongoing debates on EU countries’ relative performance on gender differentials in labour market outcomes. 

Hybrid event (Sala Capitolo, Badia & Zoom)

The link to the session will be provided following registration.

Go back to top of the page