After the progress made in the 1980s and 1990s, “Social Europe” have been “frozen” in the 2000s. The idea of a ‘social compact’ for the European Union and the Eurozone is going back for three main reasons. The first is macroeconomic, in view of persistent imbalances in the Eurozone, while the second refers to the increasing mobility of workers within Europe, which has been a lever for the adjustment of the labour market. However, this greater mobility has been accompanied by tensions, whether in relation to posted workers, social dumping, or fears of youth drain and brain drain. The third reason for the revival of the idea of a “social compact” is political, with pressure on European welfare states as a result of the reduction in public expenditure and the commitment to structural reforms. Given this context, the kind of threat we face - now and in the medium term - is an abandonment of the economic and social catch-up processes (in which each Member State would seek to reduce its debt and increase its competitiveness through ‘social deflation’).
Three priorities, associated with courses of action, are to be put upfront if Europeans are to relaunch the convergence process: strengthen the social dimension of the EMU, adapt the European framework to the new age of mobility, and restore the sustainability of the European social model.
Priorities for action: An overview
- Strengthen the social dimension of the EMU
- Adapt the European framework to the new age of mobility
- Restore the sustainability of the European social model
Authors: Marine Boisson, Unit Events, partnerships and international affairs and Bruno Palier, CNRS, Senior researcher at the Centre d’études européennes (CEE), Sciences Po Paris; co-director of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policy (LIEPP); scientic advisor to France Stratégie.