European University Institute - Department of Political and Social Sciences

Anton Hemerijck joins EC High-Level Group on Social Protection and Welfare

Anton Hemerijck, Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, joins the European Commission’s newly formed High-Level Group on the Future of Social Protection and of the Welfare State, chaired by Former European Commissioner Anna Diamantoupolou.

29/10/2021 | News

SPS Professor Anton Hemerjick has been nominated as member of the High-Level Group on the Future of Social Protection and of the Welfare State in the EU, an experts’ group recently set up by the European Commission aiming to make social protection systems and the welfare state fit for the future, particularly in light of mega trends such as demographic changes, transformations on the labour market, globalisation, and the emergence of new risks.

“Perfect timing!" was Professor Hemerijck’s first reaction upon hearing the news, referring in part to the way in which the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic “has turned into an indisputable re-appraisal of the European welfare state: lockdown restrictions underwritten by furlough scheme and health care expansion, saved lives and livelihoods, while at the same time buying precious time to develop effective vaccines.”

Currently at the EUI, he is the Coordinator and Principal Investigator of the Wellbeing Returns on Social Investment Recalibration (WellSIRe), a research project funded by the European Research Council aiming at assessing the 'returns' on social investment, which hinge on how effectively social budgets are allocated. Considering the solid evidence being collected by the EUI WellSIRe team, composed of four post-doctoral researchers and three PhD researchers, Professor Hemerejick feels well-equipped to informing his new position: "Many of [WellSIRe's] findings and insight will surely feed into my engagement in the High Level Group."

Hemerijck is also currently in the process of publishing two books, particularly relevant for the work of the High-Level Group. The first, Resilient Welfare States in the European Union, co-authored with SPS researcher Robin Huguenot-Noël and part of Erik Jones’ Comparative Political Economy series, will come out with AgendaPublishing, and the second, Who’s Afraid of the Welfare State Now? Lessons from the Great Recession for a Post-Covid Social Contract, co-authored with Professor Manos Matsaganis, Polytechnic University of Milan, will be published with Oxford University Press and brings out the welfare state as the ‘unsung hero’ of the Great Recession. 

As an academic expert and experienced advisor to the European Commission and other EU institutions on issues of social policy and welfare state reform, Hemerijck shares that he is “better prepared than ever” to take on this role, one that he looks at with optimism: “EU institutions can at times be somewhat ambiguous with notions like the European Model of Societies and the social market economy [..]," further expressing that "It’s quite a statement, and a positive one, that the new expert group, led by Former European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Anna Diamantoupolou has the concrete term of the ‘welfare state’ in its title."

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