Volume LI 2 - 2017
The European Union in Search of Solidarity
Maurizio Ferrera, pp. 227-243
What is the state of the art of the EU’s social dimension? Is there room for improvement? This article addresses these two questions. First, it offers a summary reconstruction of the long and winding road which has led to the ambitious social provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Social policy made its debut as an instrument to ensure the integration of the market, in particular the labor market, but gradually expanded its scope in three directions: the harmonization of national measures by setting common social standards; the correction of the market, through regulatory, compensatory or preventive policies at EU level; the coordination of national policies to promote their ‘modernization’ and upward convergence. The second part of the paper illustrates the institutional and social consequences of the crisis exploded in 2008 – which has suddenly re-established a deep asymmetry between the economic and social Europe – and outlines a possible agenda for reconciling the two key dimensions of the integration project.