The aim of a welfare state is to achieve certain objectives of social policy by creating the appropriate framework conditions in a market economy. The European welfare system faces the challenges concerning new models of employment, new technologies and the enlargement of the EU. It must adapt to and embrace the social changes within Europe, such as an ageing population and workforce as well as changing employment and family patterns. Participants will clarify the concept and the development of the European welfare state and - more specifically - of the European social model. They will discuss features of different social models, how they have developed across Europe and how they will respond to changes, particularly in labour markets, health and pension systems.