European Social Policy Network (ESPN)


The European Social Policy Network (ESPN) was established in July 2014 on the initiative of the European Commission to provide high quality and timely independent information, advice, analysis and expertise on social policy issues in the European Union and neighbouring countries. In particular, the ESPN will support the Commission in monitoring progress towards the EU’s social protection and social inclusion objectives as set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Social Open Method of Coordination and the Social Investment Package. It will provide the Commission with a comprehensive overview of policies on social protection (i.e. pensions, healthcare and long-term care) and social inclusion in the countries covered, including their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas most in need of further social investment.

The ESPN brings together into a single network the work that used to be carried out by the European Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion, the Network responsible for the Analytical Support on the Socio-Economic Impact of Social Protection Reforms (ASISP) and the MISSOC (Mutual Information Systems on Social Protection) secretariat.

At the heart of the ESPN are country teams of independent experts on social protection and social inclusion policies. The Network covers 35 countries - the 28 EU Member States plus seven other countries (the FYR of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey). The ESPN is managed jointly by the CEPS/INSTEAD Research Institute (lead partner, based in Luxembourg), the independent research company APPLICA (Belgium) and the European Social Observatory (Belgium).

The OSE researchers involved in this project are Bart Vanhercke, Rita Baeten, Dalila Ghailani, David Natali, Sebastiano Sabato, Ramon Pena Casas.


  • Social Investment in Europe - A Study of National Policies ESPN report  Link
  • Les stratégies nationales d’investissement social dans le tourment de la crise Opinion par E. Marlier et B. Vanhercke Link
  • National Social Investment reports prepared by the 35 ESPN country teams Link