- The case of a European Social Union. From muddling through to a sense of common purpose
- Number of pages
- Leuven: Euroforum, KU Leuven
- Euroforum policy paper
- Volume | Edition (Serie)
- Document type
- Working paper
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
We need a coherent conception of a European Social Union. A Social Union would support national welfare states on a systemic level in some of their key functions and guide the substantive development of national welfare states - via general social standards and objectives, leaving ways and means of social policy to Member States - on the basis of an operational definition of ‘the European social model’.
A Social Union, so conceived, is not only desirable but necessary. To make that analysis is not to say that an operational concept of ESU is already on the table. We are in unchartered territory: important issues have to clarified. First of all, we must be clear about the rationale and motivation for a ESU; that is the subject of the first part of the paper. I discuss arguments applying specifically to the Eurozone (focusing on the need for a ‘visible hand’, pursuing a symmetric coordination of wage policies), and arguments applying to the EU as a whole (focusing on the ‘balancing act’ that is needed between international openness, and the pan-European solidarity that this implies, and domestic social cohesion). I briefly sketch the notion of solidarity underpinning a Social Union, and I argue that the idea of ESU marks a return to the inspiration of the founding fathers of the European project.
The second part of the paper links the idea of a Social Union to current debates on social policy. ‘Social investment’ is a useful unifying policy concept for ESU; if we take it seriously, public investment in education should be higher on the European agenda. I argue that clarification is needed with regard to policy methodologies and tools, and I discuss minimum wages and minimum income protection.
Finally, to illustrate that we are in unchartered territory, with important questions on our agenda, a box with ‘10 tough nuts to crack’ is added.
- September 2014
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.