The issue of cross-national solidarity in the EU came to the fore 10 years ago, when the sovereign debt crisis unveiled the big inequalities that exist between member states. Back then, mistrust, more than solidarity, prevailed. This time, with the economic aftershocks of the pandemic, the music seems to have changed.
Despite tight economic conditionality from the EU and international lenders, minimum income policy was expanded in some crisis-ridden European countries. When minimum income expansion was not triggered by domestic politics, the EU crucially intervened to put it on the agenda: ‘social conditionality’ made its appearance alongside economic conditionality.
Taking social investment seriously has become more important than ever before to jumpstart European welfare states after the COVID tragedy. A fair balance of social investment and social protection policies will be crucial if no person (or member state) is to be left behind.