Health Democracy

In the year 2020, Europe entered its first lockdown. A year and a half later, we are turning our gaze towards the past, trying to understand some macro-dynamics that led us to the situation we are facing today.

Health Democracy is a European project aimed at creating an integrated analysis of the social inequalities of the post-COVID world.

It is led by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and Fondazione Socialismo, and is divided into 3 lines of action: Research, Training, Dissemination.


Progressive Yearbooks

The yearbook is a FEPS annual publication that highlights the most important events and developments of the previous year. But our Progressive Yearbook is also, and above all, about the future. It is an opportunity to stop for a moment and look forward, set priorities, and put on paper some of the expectations and plans against which future developments will have to be tested.

As the leading progressive think tank in Europe, FEPS wants to showcase by its Yearbook its strong network in gathering political leaders, activists and academic experts from our political family, as well as collect critical data and deliver sharp analysis along with concrete proposals.

EU Care Atlas

Interactive data map that shows how care deficits impact the gender earning gap

Browse through the EU Care Atlas, a new interactive data map to help uncover what the statistics are often hiding: how care deficits directly feed into the gender earnings gap and contribute to gender inequalities.

In the EU, women earn annually 36.7% less than men. While the attention is often focused on the gender pay gap (which averages 13% in the EU), the EU Care Atlas brings to light the more worrisome and complex picture of women’s economic inequalities. The pay gap is just one of the three main elements that explain the overall earnings gap. The EU Care atlas also looks at the employment and hours gaps, besides a picture of unpaid work across Europe. Behind all these indicators lie the disproportionate burden of care work carried by women – paid and unpaid.

The EU Care Atlas is part of the #Care4Care project, by FEPS and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, which over the last two years has developed a care framework supporting the EU gender equality strategy.

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Talking Green

Talking Green is a research project that explores perceptions of climate actions across Europe. Through surveys in Hungary, Ireland and the UK, FEPS – in partnership with the Fabian Society, TASC, the Szociális Demokráciáért Intézet and the Progressive Hungary Foundation – is developing an understanding how the green transition is perceived especially by low- and middle-income people.

The collected data allow progressives to find the most effective ways to talk about climate change and develop participatory and effective policy proposals that address climate change while delivering a just transition that is aligned with people’s concerns.

Care4Care Policy Brief Series

Building on our network of care experts, this Care4Care Policy Brief Series gives centre stage to a long overseen phenomenon that deserves the fullest political relevance and attention.

By zooming into specific dimensions of care, each policy brief of this series identifies common challenges and possible good practices across countries whilst drawing concrete recommendations to feed into national and EU level policy responses.

This Policy Brief Series is part of #Care4Care research project. Raising the question “Does Europe Care for Care?”,  FEPS and FES focus in this joint project on care as a cross-cutting issue. We endeavour to monitor the EU gender-equality policy agenda through a progressive lens, focusing particularly on its care dimensions.

Fiscal Rules

Among the different actions taken by the European Commission in the aftermath of the pandemic, the suspension of the fiscal rules may represent a change as big and as relevant as the much more acclaimed Next Generation EU. Several governments have already hinted that they don’t wish to go back to the same rules, once – in 2023 – the economic outlook recovers. Then, what is the way to go? Which rules need adapting?

What is the strategy to attain meaningful changes to the E(M)U economic governance?

FEPS intends to kick off a debate that is likely going to be with us for quite some time, as it touches the core of the EU’s economic integration and the level of trust between member states. It is a tough nut to crack!


Progressives have long advocated for far-reaching tax reforms able to deliver on fiscal justice. Nowadays, reforms become even more crucial as member states need resources to drive the green and digital twin transitions and secure a prompt recovery.

The negotiations at the G20 level, based on the OECD proposals, represent a possible big change in the rules of the game and have the potential to completely reshape how corporate tax works. However, there are many other aspects of interest as well.

FEPS is active on multiple fronts of tax policy, from sustainable taxes to wealth taxation, from EU own resources to the FTT. The analyses and discussions led by FEPS should be useful to identify avenues for European integration on this important matter and propose policy solutions that modernise the European taxation system.

Strategic Autonomy

About the Project

Does the EU have the capacity and agency to set priorities and make decisions autonomously in its external action? What are the necessary political, institutional and material steps to get there? How can strategic autonomy help the EU to face the challenges within and beyond European borders?

FEPS EU enlargement publication series

1. From EU enlargement fatigue to ambiguity

Despite the EU enlargement policy framework and its declared goals, the present EU-Western Balkan political and socio-economic relations do not promise a swift convergence and lasting transformation of the region. On the contrary, the current economic and political set-up in the Western Balkans favours the empowerment of ‘charismatic strong men’ unchecked by democratic mechanisms. Such a model increasingly resembles the Chinese and Russian model of political capitalism.

The devastating consequences of Covid-19 outbreak have exacerbated this reality, further highlighting the shortcomings of EU policy toward theregion and these countries’ economic and political divergence form EU standards.

Against this backdrop, EU enlargement framework urgently needs to be supplemented with a more progressive political agenda, to navigate through these doomy and gloomy days. The Western Balkans should be included in the EU common response to the pandemic on a number of issues, among which: health and economic recovery plans; the defense of the rule of law and democratic governance; as well as foreign policy matters.

2. Dealing with EU accession in times of uncertainties: From halfway commitments to overlapping agendas

“The process of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is today marred by ambiguities” writes Matteo Bonomi, Research Fellow at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), at the beginning of this Policy Brief.

The publication aims at investigating the current developments of the EU enlargement agenda in the Western Balkans and the main obstacles it is facing. It highlights the existence of resistances towards this policy and claims that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already complex situation.

According to Matteo Bonomi, the EU-Western Balkan relations should move from halfway commitments toward a common agenda and need to tackle the root causes of the current situation. Among the main problems of the region, the author highlights the “enduring socio-economic regression, unresolved constitutional disputes and backsliding in democratic standards”.

3. Challenges for EU enlargement in a post-covid scenario

Today, stating that the EU enlargement towards the Western Balkan countries is in a stalemate amounts to a cliché. The number of declarations, summits, initiatives and pleas from Brussels and some member states has only reinforced a growing frustration, as deeds have not followed words and the commitment to the region’s ‘European perspective’ remains half-baked – the case of the Bulgarian veto to the opening of North Macedonia’s Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) only strengthened such gloomy picture.

This policy brief looks at how to put the process of enlargement back into the European Union’s agenda in a post-Covid environment, to prevent a further detachment of the Western Balkan states from the EU, and taking advantage of the new financing opportunities of the period 2021-27. It also look at the role that European progressives should play in order to make European accession a credible prospect for the WB 6.

4. Next steps for progressive commitment to EU enlargement

What should progressive forces do to finally overcome the deadlock that characterise European enlargement policies and ensure a credible political turn? What are their responsibilities? These topics were at the centre of the debate “What is progressive? The EU and the challenge of enlargement to the Western Balkans” that took place on 18 June 2021.

The discussion pointed out how stronger alliances among progressives and enhanced civil society participation to the enlargement process are key elements that should be strengthened in order to shift enlargement policies from technicalities to politics.


Financing the EU Green Deal – Policy Breakfast Series

A vast amount of money will be needed to finance the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy whilst investment in polluting infrastructure will have to cease.

What ‘rules of the game’ need to change in order to redirect private capital flows in support of our long-term societal objectives? What is the role of central banks and other supervisory authorities in managing the transition? How should public revenues and expenditures be revisited to achieve a real fair society?

These are in essence the questions that FEPS would like to address in this Policy Breakfast series on Financing the EU Green Deal. Each meeting will consist of a policy presentation, followed by a discussion with experts and policymakers; to which you are invited to contribute.

Discover more about FEPS work on climate investment

#1 European and National Development Banks for the Green Transition

Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University presented FEPS Policy Study “The Role of the EIB in the Green Transformation. She explored the European Investment Bank (EIB)’s double mandate to maximize sustainable and inclusive development impacts while maintaining some financial profits or avoiding financial losses in the context of the major green transformation.

A discussion with the director of the KfW Liaison Office to the EU David Denzer-Speck and the director of the Economics Department of the European Investment Bank Debora Revoltella, as well as a Q&A, followed.

#2 New Resources for the EU Green Deal

Rafael Wildauer and Stuart Leitch, University of Greenwich, presented FEPS Policy Study “A European wealth tax for a fair and green recovery  in partnership with the Renner Institut, where they investigated the potential of a European net wealth tax to raise substantial revenues while supporting the economy and the consensus on climate action

Jos Delbeke, Professor at KU Leuven and at the EUI School of Transnational Governance and former Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Climate Action, gave a presentation on the carbon border adjustment mechanism and the ETS reform. A discussion with MEP Aurore Lalucq and a Q&A followed.

#3 The role of central banks in the climate transition

What role can central banks play in the transition towards a climate-neutral economy? Several discussions are ongoing, and FEPS debated this crucial issue with Irene Heemskerk, Head of the European Central Bank’s new Climate Change Centre.

The presentation was followed by two short interventions from Jens van’t Klooster, postdoctoral fellow at the KU Leuven and Julia Symon, Senior Research and Advocacy Officer, from Finance Watch, who acted as discussants.

Saïd El Khadraoui, FEPS Special Adviser on the Green Deal, moderated the session.

#4 Sustainable Finance and the Issue of Greenwashing

Martin Spolc, Head of the Sustainable Finance Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, discussed with us how the EU’s sustainable finance framework can address greenwashing.

Aleksandra Palinska, senior research and advocacy officer at Finance Watch and Dr Ben Allen, research director at Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and co-rapporteur of the Technical Working Group of Platform on Sustainable Finance, acted as discussants.

Andreas Dimmelmeier, FEPS policy analyst on climate and environment, moderated the session.

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