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EUROPE: COVID-19 and the European Social Charter (ESC)

The COVID-19 crisis has had a serious impact on almost all areas of life and has led to a massive curtailment of social rights in many fields. At the same time, however, the pandemic also led to a renaissance of the welfare state, which is thus gaining renewed public attention. Throughout Europe, governments took comprehensive social and labor market policy measures to cushion the devastating effects of the pandemic as best as possible and to prevent broad segments of the population from slipping into poverty and precariousness. Nevertheless, after only a short time it became apparent that the burden of the crisis was distributed asymmetrically among different population groups with members of marginalised groups and people in vulnerable situations being disproportionately affected by a curtailment of social rights. This leads to a deepening of existing social inequalities and the creation of new ones.

Together with the Austrian Chamber of Labour (AK) and financed by the Network Science of the AK, the LBI GMR examines, against the background of the European Social Charter and the social rights enshrined therein under international law, the measures taken in response to the Covid-19 crisis (e.g. to preserve employment or to prevent social hardship) of selected European countries and their impact on the welfare state debate.


  • Conducting specific country comparisons regarding the Covid-19 measures and their impact on European welfare states
  • Improving the access to information about European welfare state debates
  • Assessing the impact of the crisis on marginalised groups and individuals in particularly vulnerable situations

The project is aimed at, among others:

  • Researchers
  • Human rights institutions and NGOs
  • Social partners
  • Policy makers

In addition to in-depth desk research and the monitoring of quantitative indicators, interviews are conducted with experts on social policy and social rights in selected European countries.

The project is closely linked to Karin Lukas’ term as President of the European Committee of Social Rights and the results are continuously fed into her work. In addition, the results are made available to the public through blog articles, conference contributions and other formats.

Project News:

As part of the project, Karin Lukas and Vincent Perle regularly write articles on the topic of social rights in Europe on the AW-blog of the Austrian Chamber of Labor. 
Find more about their latest article here.
Also recently published on the AW-Blog is Karin Lukas' and Vincent Perle's article on European welfare states in the COVID-19 crisis.

Contact persons: 
Lead Organisation: 
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights
Project start: 
Project end: 
Funded by: 
Network Science of the Austrian Chamber of Labour
Development Cooperation and Business
Gefördert vom Netzwerk Wissenschaft der Arbeiterkammer