I would suggest looking at some of the research by Francis Fukuyama.
"Social Capital, Civil Society, and Development," Third World
Quarterly 22 (no. 1, 2001).
He has more of a global focus, but he does go into Europe at length.
Despite the fact that I am tired of reading paper's on natural experiments, there is one contribution in this field that captured my attention. Not only the topic is fascinating (Switzerland offered up to two years of income tax exemptions to its inhabitants), but also because the results are quite surprising: almost no behavioral change occurred. Here is ...
Some papers that interested me this year (in game theory):
Subgame-perfect equilibrium in games with almost perfect
information: Dispensing with public randomization
They show the seminal result of Harris, Reny, Robson that a correlation device is required for existence of subgame perfect equilibria in continuous games can be weakened when nature is ...
I think the randomized trial of mask effectiveness is one of the most notable economic papers in 2021. This is not a pure economics paper and it is published in science that does not specialize in economics, but public health is part of the economics of healthcare and the leading authors are economists.
I think the paper is notable because it was the first ...
This is an opinion question, but I'll give my opinion.
In terms of methods, I like Arkhangelsky et al.'s synthetic diff-in-diff.
In terms of applied economics, I liked Goncalves and Mello's study of racial bias in the U.S. police force.