[Excerpt] Manifested early on in the first social action programme in 1973, this unrelenting commitment to defining a social face to this new community of countries continued with the establishment of what later became ‘Eurofound’ in Dublin shortly afterwards. A tripartite European Agency to provide data and analysis to help shape policy in social and work-related matters was a bold and defining element in this move towards locking the social dimension into the development and growth of the ever-expanding Union.
Throughout these years, Eurofound has continued to contribute to this early and strategic vision of a social Europe. By the late 1970s, work on wage systems was already a core part of the Agency’s activities. Other early activities focused on new forms of work organisation, shiftwork and physical and psychological constraints at work. In the 1980s, unsurprisingly, the focus was on the long-term unemployed and in 1990 work on the first pan-European survey of working conditions was under way.
As the Union has grown, so too has the scope of the Agency’s work, taking on responsibility for monitoring and analysing employment change via the European Monitoring Centre on Change, and today its scope encompasses 28 Member States and several candidate countries and observer states. The sixth series of the working conditions survey covering 34 countries is now in preparation, while surveys on quality of life and on company practices have similarly evolved over time. Comparative analysis across countries continues to be Eurofound’s key contribution in many areas, drawing also on input from the network of European correspondents. Meanwhile, original research has made significant input to several central policy debates. Most recently, it was Eurofound’s calculation of the estimated cost to Europe’s economy of the exclusion of the 14 million young people not in employment, education or training (about 1.2% of GDP per annum) that galvanised action for the Youth Guarantee now being implemented across Europe.