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Social Europe – In Europe Or In The Member States?

Kowalsky, W. (2014) “Social Europe – In Europe Or In The Member States?”, Social Europe Journal, 12 May.


A solution to save Social Europe by going back to the Member States is the key message of a recent contribution by Paul de Beer. Reading the “Roadmap to a Social Europe”, which shows a maze on its cover, he gets the impression that not so much is clear in the vision of Social Europe. Indeed to strive for Social Europe is quite a challenge in these times, but primarily it is an intellectual challenge. For some decades, since the discussion about the social dimension of Europe started, there have always been diverging views on the social objectives of the EU.

The confrontation of ideas was part of the struggle for a better and more social Europe. Such a confrontation of ideas (often between left and right) is normal at national level but it works quite differently in the European debate: First, there simply is no notion such as “social France”, “social Germany”, “social Poland” etc., which constitutes a first difficulty and a first challenge. Secondly, the notion of left and right is more ambiguous, as the European governance system is more consensual than confrontational: In the Commission, consensus is the main method, in the European Parliament a coalition of the big parties finds a consensus on most of the topics.


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