- A European Social Union: unduly idealistic or inevitable?
- European Debates
- Issue number
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article summarises a lecture delivered at the EIB on 5 March 2015, on the idea of a European Social Union. The main argument is that a basic consensus on the European social model has become an existential necessity for the EU. A consensus must be reached on the respective roles of EU institutions and national governments in social policy, and on the general objectives and standards of the European social model. The Greek crisis, which is not resolved at the moment of writing, highlights the complexity of the challenge, but also its urgency. To illustrate the potential for such a consensus, reference is made to a report published by the think tank Friends of Europe, ‘Unequal Europe: Recommendations for a more caring EU’. Reference is also made to some elements of the recent report ‘Towards Economic Union - Convergence, Prosperity and Social Cohesion’ by the Presidents of five major EU institutions - known as the Five Presidents’ Report - which shows a growing awareness of the need to incorporate the social dimension in our thinking on the future of the EU. However, the Five Presidents’ report underestimates the education agenda facing the EU. Finally, it is argued that the Greek drama illustrates first and foremost a ‘deficit in common purpose’ rather than a democratic deficit in the EU. A sense of common purpose, notably with regard to the European social model, is essential for the Eurozone and the EU to survive.
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