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Author: Angie Gago

In the run-up and aftermath of the 2004 EU enlargement, concerns of welfare tourism emerged: the idea that Eastern European migrants would move to Western European countries to access social benefits rather than to work (Sinn, 2002: 105; Kvist, 2004: 303). To avoid this, Directive 2004/38 allowed member states to exclude economically inactive citizens from social assistance benefits. However, this regulation did not end concerns of welfare tourism. It contained ambiguous terms such as ‘sufficient resources’ or ‘unreasonable burden’, which left member states’ much room for interpretation (Blauberger and Schmidt, 2014: 2–3).

Besides, some provisions of Directive 2004/38 contradicted other EU regulations and the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), therefore resulting in ‘significant legal uncertainty’ (Blauberger and Schmidt, 2014: 2). The literature has also pointed out that other exogenous factors, such as the Eurozone crisis (2008–14) and/or the refugee crisis (2015), have also fostered fears of welfare tourism, owing to financial pressure on member states or the increase of anti-immigration views (Alexandre-Collier, 2015; Lafleur and Mescoli, 2018). In addition, some studies have concluded that the response of national governments to these fears of welfare tourism has been to restrict EU migrants’ access to social assistance benefits (Fernandes, 2016: Roos, 2016).

However, we still do not know much about either the specific characteristics of fears of welfare tourism in national contexts or the social policy reforms undertaken to limit EU migrant’s access to social help. This chapter addresses these questions by analysing the interplay between exogenous and endogenous factors to explain the differences in fears of welfare tourism in two countries, the UK and Germany, from 2004 to 2020.

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Authors: Marlene Haupt and Viola Lind

COVID-19 could reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights. Women’s leadership and contributions must be at the heart of resilience and recovery efforts. Nearly 60 per cent of women around the world work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty. As markets fall and businesses close, millions of women’s jobs have disappeared. At the same time as they are losing paid employment, women’s unpaid care work has increased exponentially as a result of school closures and the increased needs of older people. These currents are combining as never before to defeat women’s rights and deny women’s opportunities. I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID-19. That starts with women as leaders, with equal representation and decision-making power. (Guterres, 2020)

Besides the enormous effect on both individual and public health, the COVID-19 pandemic itself and the measures employed to control it have also had huge socio-economic consequences with strongly gendered effects. Therefore, identifying gender aspects in the pandemic response is crucial, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the potential to reinforce traditional gendered patterns. To a higher degree than men, women are forced to combine paid work and unpaid family care at home. They are also suffering more from domestic violence and are forming the majority of the essential but low paid workforce, owing to the gender-segregated labour market.

This chapter explores differences in specific aspects of gender equality before and after the pandemic in two countries.

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This chapter brings together the literatures on policy-learning and lesson-drawing on the one hand, and intra-crisis learning on the other, in order to examine the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy-learning literature explores issues such as what lessons were learned by whom. The lesson-drawing literature examines the content and process of policy transfer, focusing on the fungibility or transferability of lessons. However, most existing work is based on ‘ordinary’ policymaking rather than ‘extraordinary’ or ‘crisis’ policymaking characterised by elements of threat, urgency and uncertainty such as that during the pandemic.

We critically examine three different ‘real time’ lenses, drawing on three main sources: political (government documents, and Hansard debates); scientific (minutes of advisory groups such as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE) and media (national news media). These three sources provide different perspectives on the rapidly evolving government agenda. Political sources provide a record of what was being discussed by policymakers, who often claimed that they were ‘following the science’, as well as debates between the government and opposition, providing an insight into the scientific sources they were making use of in their deliberations. The scientific sources explore the extent to which the advisory bodies were looking at emergent research from their own countries, from the past or from abroad. The news media provide a rapid (daily) commentary on issues, giving a contemporary record of what was happening in other countries and material from the past that could inform learning about the virus. As Wolfe et al (2013) suggest, which issues are on the agenda, which ones are not, when and why, are the central questions that drive agenda-setting in communications and policy studies, and become even more important during a period of extraordinary policymaking.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe worldwide public health crisis since the ‘Hong Kong Flu’ of the late 1970s.1 According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the number of confirmed deaths worldwide from COVID-19 by December 2020 surpassed 1.5 million. This rapidly spreading virus tested the limits of governance soon after its outbreak. On the one hand, the strength and speed of government responses to a pandemic prevent infection and save lives (Wilder-Smith et al, 2020); but on the other hand, the public will only tolerate so much government ‘lockdown’ and will engage in behaviours that cause political turmoil and increase infections in response. Most theories of governance suggest that government actors respond to public opinion when making public policy. Therefore, we explore whether the variation in response to this pandemic met public preferences, and if not, whether it led to risky public behaviours.

Governments around the world varied in the timing and severity of measures such as national lockdowns, imposing curfews and contact tracing. Surprisingly, strict lockdowns early in this pandemic often led the public to become more supportive of incumbent governments and democratic institutions (Baekgaard et al, 2020; Bol et al, 2020; Reeskens et al, 2020), known as the ‘rally around the flag’ effect. However, after some time, more and more members of the public began acting against government regulations by refusing to wear masks, holding social gatherings or even engaging in mass protests. We question how many of these anti-lockdown behaviours can be explained as a result of policy ack from governments’ initial responses to the pandemic.

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Author: Carla Valadas

The plan for building a united European Union (EU) has always been in constant turmoil, particularly in its social dimension. Several obstacles and limits have jeopardised the accomplishment of a more socially cohesive EU. The integration of EU social policy has progressed to some degree, along with the completion of the Single Market process and the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union, throughout a 60-year long history of opportunities and drawbacks. While it made domestic social policy autonomy less stringent, European integration continued to be predominantly dominated by an economic, trade-oriented focus (Whyman et al, 2014). So far, this means, first, that contrary to other economic and financial policy areas (for example, removal of trade barriers, labour and business mobility, monetary union), EU legal action in the social policy field continues to lag behind. Owing to different regimes of welfare and industrial relations systems, along with distinct national legislative frameworks and divergent levels of economic development, advancements in areas such as social and employment policies are challenged by opposing interests, lack political support and are stymied by the absence of strong coalitions between member states.

Among the policy areas where political and legislative responsibility remains firmly anchored at the national level lie social security and redistributive policies. Redistribution and mutual insurance of social risks were not included in the foundation of the EU project. Throughout its development, social regulation has been devoted ‘to solve the problems created by market failures, such as negative externalities, information or competition deficiencies’, rather than to ‘correct social inequalities through redistribution’ (Dupuy and Jacquot, 2017: 98).

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Information and referral services are a significant source of support for older adults. Over the years, there have been discussions about older adults’ access to technology for information and referral services, as these have moved online. Online access to these services has become even more crucial in the context of COVID-19, owing to the requirement for social distancing (Sixsmith, 2020).

This chapter reports on a study of older adults’ access to information and referral services using technology between April and August 2020. Community older adult services are the main provider of these services. The study reports on interviews with 28 stakeholders in community older adult services, including staff, volunteers and policy developers across the province of British Columbia, Canada. Participant observation was also utilised in various conference, meetings and service delivery sessions during the study period.

Three major themes can be found in the study: these are challenges around access to technology, overcoming challenges around access to technology and collaboration between sectors. We have inferred three theoretical perspectives behind the themes, which are human rights, anti-oppression and intersectionality. These themes and concepts will be further explained.

Populations across the world are ageing. For example, ‘The ageing of Canada’s population continues and the average age was 41.4 years on July 1, up slightly from the same day a year earlier (41.3 years). This average has risen every year since comparable record-keeping began in 1971. The share of seniors aged 65 years and older continued to grow, reaching 18.0% on July 1’ (Statistics Canada, 2020).

The ageing of populations has been happening alongside the digital revolution that has been transforming global societies and economies in the last decades.

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Sweden received an unusual global spotlight during the spring of 2020 as its measures to contain the COVID-19 virus took a unique path. Compared with many other countries where nationwide lockdowns were implemented, the Swedish public health authority advocated for a more cautious approach to the implementation of regulations that restricted the mobility of its residents. Instead, government intervention took the form of general recommendations to the public, and only a few legal restrictions were imposed on public events (Pierre, 2020). It was only during the last months of 2020 that the government’s strategy took a turn towards stronger restrictions, both rhetorically and legally, as is exemplified by legislation of a new pandemic law that the parliament voted through on 8 January 2021. The temporary pandemic law allows the government to place legally binding restrictions on businesses and public venues, including forced closure (Regeringskansliet, 2021).

About ten months into the pandemic, the death toll caused by the COVID-19 virus in Sweden approaches 10,000 as of the second week of January 2021 and close to 500,000 cases have been confirmed. The death toll relative to the population size in Sweden (900 per million) is more similar to that of England (1,172 per million) and France (979 per million), the countries in Europe hit hardest by the pandemic, than its close neighbours such as Norway (87 per million), Finland (105 per million) and Denmark (255 per million) (Johns Hopkins University/Coronavirus Resource Center, 2021). While commentators have occasionally raised their voices to criticise the apparent failure of the Swedish strategy in containing the spread of the virus and protecting the elderly population, overall public opinion in Sweden regarding the government’s management of the pandemic, especially during the initial phase, was overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

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Author: Ana Diakonidze

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on labour markets in both advanced as well as emerging economies. Massive lay-offs have become unavoidable, leading unemployment rates to soar. Accordingly, governments around the world have had to come up with novel and in many cases substantial relief programmes to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Primarily, such relief can be divided into two types: measures whereby government agencies provide direct support to workers; and measures whereby the relief is channelled through pre-existing employment relationships (Rothwell, 2020).

The potential of a country to withstand the ongoing crisis greatly depends on the strength and resilience of its social security system. The transition economies of most post-Soviet states (transitioning from centrally planned to market-oriented) have been particularly vulnerable to this economic shock, given the ineffective operation of their labour market institutions and social protection systems in general. Against this background, this chapter examines the policy responses to the social crisis caused by the pandemic in the Republic of Georgia – a transition economy in the South Caucasus. The main argument is that Georgia’s existing social security system was already ineffective in protecting workers from economic downturns before the pandemic struck. Therefore, its capacity to provide help to workers affected by the crisis was extremely limited.

This chapter is based on publicly available administrative statistics and a total of nine interviews with a combination of policy administrators (five) and informal sector workers (three). The main focus of this chapter is on informal workers because they represent a significant share (about 35 per cent) of the Georgian labour force (as is the case in other transition economies).

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