P. Vesan, F. Corti, in Politiche Sociali - Il Mulino, vol. 1, 2018, pp. 125-142.


Since 2015, Jean Claude Juncker has promoted the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) as the central aspect of his new strategy to relaunch the EU social dimension. The Social Pillar has the stated aim to be a «compass» for achieving an «upward social convergence» within the European Monetary Union. In November 2017, the presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission signed the inter-institutional proclamation on the EPSR. This proclamation represents the first political commitment on the EPSR's principles, though its concrete policy outputs are still uncertain. This article traces the development of the EPSR and illustrates some of the main tensions, limits and strengths of this initiative. Finally, the article proposes a research agenda based on three axes which refer to the study of the EPSR as a milestone of the new «social strategy» carried out by the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker.

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I. Madama

ABSTRACT - The working paper deals with a recent EU social initiative - the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) -that from the RESCEU perspective, despite its narrow scope, can be understood as a puzzlingcase of “reconciliation” at the EU level. Launched in 2014 to contrast severe material deprivation, the FEAD was meant to represent in symbolic terms a way to both increase the visibility of EU action in the social field and to stem the harshest social consequences of the economic downturn.By focussing on this program,targeted to the lower tier of pan-European solidarity, the paper has two main goals. First, from a descriptive standpoint, it aims at providing an overview of the main institutional features of this novel component of the European social sphere. Interestingly the empirical reconstruction of the long process that brought about the adoption of the FEAD shed light on a peculiar historical pathway that took the form of a slow moving process of transformative yet gradual institutional change:not a big transformation in response to big shock, rather an incremental change with highly transformative results (Streeck and Thelen, 2005). Second, from an interpretative standpoint, the paper advances some preliminary hypotheses on the political and institutional dynamics behind the adoption of the new scheme, that appears puzzling on two fronts. On the one side, it represents an unlikely case of supranational activism in the social sphere in an expansionary direction, that occurred within a scenario of overall de-conciliation and econocratic negative integration (cf. Ferrera, 2014). On the other side, it affected a policy field – the fight against poverty and social exclusion – which is particularly unlikely to be Europeanized, since it is typically characterized by a strong defense of national sovereignty. Not surprisingly, findings suggest that the adoption of the FEAD resulted to be a contested and contentious decision, that fostered the emergence of harsh tensions. Despite this, the institutional and political sponsorship of the proposal proved to be strong enough to have the Commission’s initiative not only passed but even strengthened, in terms of scope and financial budget, during the legislative process.

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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.

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