This article examines the economic and social transformation occurring in post-communist societies, with a particular focus on the emergence of new social risks (NSRs) and the subsequent welfare state responses. It argues that Central and Eastern European countries are characterised by broader NSR types (a mix of old and new social risks) and groups than those present in the West. In order to deal more effectively with the requirements of the post-industrial, knowledge-based, and service economy, the reasons for a new political economy of skill formation and for a new empowering politics of the welfare state capable of strengthening the potential of individuals to adapt to more flexible labour markets are discussed. The new empowering politics of the welfare state proposed here would consist of four main pillars: 1) a guaranteed minimum income; 2) a basic income for children; 3) state investments for education and human capital formation; and 4) a guaranteed basic pension. The aim is to empower the individual through decommodification, childhood investment, human capital formation, and a rebalancing of life risks. The article concludes by reflecting on the political feasibility of this proposal.