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AI, robots and platform workers: What future for European welfare states?

At this event, we launch the study, "Digitalisation and European welfare states", authored by Georgios Petropoulos, J. Scott Marcus, Nicolas Moës, and


Thiébaut Weber

Member of the European High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and former ETUC Confederal Secretary,

Michael Froman

Vice Chairman and President, Strategic Growth, Mastercard, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

European welfare states face serious challenges as the workplace is transformed by factors including artificial intelligence (AI), robotisation, and online labour platforms such as Uber. These disruptive changes affect not only the number of hours to be worked, but also the manner in which work is performed. Notably, the changes are accelerating a shift away from traditional full time employment, and toward nontraditional employment and self-employment. This trend is further aggravated by the growing tendency of workers to switch from one of these forms of work to another, sometimes even on the same day.

European social protection arrangements that are primarily geared to the protection of traditional employees are struggling to adapt. Are these nontraditional and self-employed workers to enjoy the level of benefits that we have come to expect for employees in Europe? What needs do they have? How can appropriate social protection best be managed?

These changes also imply challenges for the funding of social protection schemes that have often relied on employee and employer contributions. Again, these stresses are compounded by many factors, including a shift where the role of labour in creating value is declining in favour of capital in European member states, and where demographic changes imply that fewer workers must support more retirees. Under these constraints, where is the money to come from?

European welfare states are very diverse. It is clear that all of them will need to adapt rapidly to meet these challenges, but far from clear how this can best be done; moreover, the responses are likely to be no less diverse than the current arrangements in the member states.

At this event, organised by Bruegel in cooperation with France Stratégie, we will discuss these and related questions. We will also launch the study, "Digitalisation and European welfare states", authored by Georgios Petropoulos, J. Scott Marcus, Nicolas Moës, and Enrico Bergamini.

Bruegel has received kind support for this study and event from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.


Digitalisation and European welfare states