Will the social systems of the EU member states become more harmonized by the European Union in the future or has the idea of an integrated social dimension in Europe reached its end? The discussion about what the European integration really means for each member state has long been a topic of debate in many European countries. Especially when it comes to the question of whether or not to delegate the national sovereignty to a supranational institution like the EU, opinions vary. Depending on the nation and its politics and traditions regarding labour market and social protection, the attitude towards the level of intervention from the EU, differ. In some nations, such as the Scandinavian countries, social politics is highly developed, while other countries still have a long way to go before such a system becomes more established. Because the social systems in the EU have developed differently throughout time, today it seems like a challenge to unite these systems into one common European Social Model.
The analysis will examine what challenges can occur, with the desire of a deeper integrated social Europe and when trying to implement a common social policy across the nation states in the European Union. A Scandinavian country like Denmark has always had tradition for regulating social policy on its own, whereas Spain on the other hand has more faith in a supranational institution like the EU, and in giving it more sovereignty. By using three different integration theories, the analysis will try to explain the challenges lying ahead when the EU is trying to achieve political agreements with the member states. In general, the analysis will show that Denmark and Spain respectively have very different views on new political initiatives, particularly coming from the European Commission. There are different national factors that play a crucial part to understand why states have different preferences when negotiating on a supranational level. National traditions, historical prerequisites, political cultures and the conception of solidarity are inevitable elements to consider when attempting to integrate a social system, that incorporates so many different countries.
In Denmark, one of the greatest challenges is especially the national awareness that exists towards the traditions of the labour market and the welfare system, which are deeply rooted in the Danish society. In Spain, political matters within the state and a society with great focus on the family and the Catholic Church as the key to social protection make out the main issues when trying to harmonize a social system within the EU.
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