This book offers an account of the performance of the welfare state in the European Union, and explores its future prospects in an ever evolving setting. The objectives of the welfare state are twofold: to relieve poverty and to provide a sense of security for everyone. It can be shown that over the last four decades the welfare state has been quite successful in achieving these objectives, more visibly in the Nordic countries than in the Southern or the Anglo-Saxon ones. But today the welfare state is at a crossroad. It is facing a variety of challenges that include demographic aging, the changing role of families, increased opportunism, economic integration and declining job security. All these challenges call for a drastic reform of the welfare state, one that requires more control of abuses and more accountability. The authors that it is crucial that all the components of the welfare state be made as efficient as possible, and that if a choice has to be made between alleviating poverty and protecting individuals against lifetime risks, priority should be given to the first objective. This book devotes a chapter to each of the main social protection programs: health care, unemployment insurance, pensions and child policies. In addition, special consideration is given throughout to the necessary interdependence among the State, the market and the family.