ABSTRACT - The European Union – and the Euro-zone in particular- is currently torn by a number of widening fault lines. What is at stake is not only economic and institutional performance, but the very stability / continuity of the Union as a political system. The first and most visible fault line concerns the functioning of EMU and opposes North and South, "core" and “peripheral”, "creditor" and "debtor" Member States. The second line runs from West to East and mainly concerns the free movement of persons, capital and services in the internal market. It pits countries with consolidated welfare and high taxes/contributions against countries with relatively limited welfare, low labor costs and low regulation. The third line is rooted in the institutional asymmetry of the EU system of government, programmatically tilted in favor of market-making and against market correcting policies. The fourth line is, finally, of a vertical nature: “Brussels” (supranational institutions) against national governments and their sovereignty in policy areas deemed crucial for democratic legitimation and social cohesion [...]
M. Ferrera, in West European Politics, Vol. 37, no. 4, 2014, pp. 825-843.
The article starts by identifying the main institutional components of the (elusive) concept of Social Europe: the ‘National Social Spaces’, i.e. the social protection systems of the member states; the ‘EU Social Citizenship Space’, i.e. the coordination regime that allows all EU nationals to access the social benefits of other member states when they exercise free movement; the ‘Regional Social Spaces’, i.e. sub-national and/or trans-regional social policies; and the ‘EU Social Policy’ proper. Based on such reconceptualisation, the article then revisits the main analytical insights and substantive findings of the volume’s contributions, focusing in particular on dynamics of ‘social re-bounding’ during the crisis, on national implementation processes, on the relevance of ‘fits’ and ‘misfits’ for social policy compliance and on issues of democratic control. In the conclusion, some suggestions for future research and for the EU’s social agenda are put forward.
This article is available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402382.2014.919771
In: W. van Oorschot, H. Peeters, C. Boos (eds), Invisible social security revisited: Essays in honour of Jos Berghman, Tielt, Belgium. Lannoo Publishers. pp. 145-160.
For at least two decades, European countries have been earnestly striving to reform their social models, tailored on increasingly surpassed economic and socio-demographic structures. This effort has been guided by a number of common principles, many of them developed by the European Union: sustainability and efficiency, flexicurity, inclusion, social protection as a "productive factor", new partnerships between private and public actors, social investment, social innovation. Almost all EU countries have had a hand in their pension systems in response to demographic challenges and problems of financial sustainability. Labour markets and policies were reformed and some progress has been made in terms of new policies and measures favoring women and children, frail and dependent elderly, the fight against poverty and exclusion [...]