- Why we need a European Social Union
- Reflets et Perspectives de la Vie Économique
- Volume | Issue number
- LII | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Arguments on "social Europe" need to give an unequivocal answer to questions of why, what, and how. With regard to the question of why, I argue that, whereas ten years ago the quest for an operational description of the European social model might have been dismissed as interesting but not strictly necessary, today it is no less than an existential conundrum for the Union. EMU must be complemented with a genuine European Social Union, for it to be sustainable in the long term. A Social Union means that the EU would guide the substantive development of national welfare states, via general social standards and objectives, leaving ways and means of social policy to Member States. That presupposes a sufficient degree of consensus on the goals of social policy. It also requires pan-European solidarity based on reciprocity in the relationships between the Member States. With regard to the question of what, I briefly sketch some elements of the ensuing social agenda, with a focus on the notion of social investment. I also identify some of the urgencies in respect of the how, particularly the need to restore the unity between economic and social policy, and between short and long-term objectives, and how this would relate to the ‘contractual approach’ proposed by the President of the Council, Herman Van Rompuy.
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