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Keywords:

  • economic recession;
  • labour market;
  • social policy;
  • governance;
  • EU countries;
  • gender;
  • gender equality;
  • equal employment opportunity;
  • economic recession;
  • Denmark;
  • Germany;
  • Slovakia;
  • United Kingdom

Abstract.

Introducing the contributions to this special issue of the International Labour Review, this article reviews the broad phases of the economic crisis in the EU since 2008 and highlights the critical role of social policy in mitigating its initial impact on Europeans. However, the crisis and governments' policy responses have also been widening labour market inequalities between different groups within countries, the authors argue, as illustrated by the disproportionate growth of youth employment and their specific focus on gender inequality. Cross-national variations in the content and structure of stimulus and austerity countermeasures are also found to be exacerbating divergence between EU countries.