The Future of EU Social and Labour Market Policy: Between a European Social Union and an EU Regulatory Welfare State?

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This chapter focuses on whether recent initiatives in social policy and labour market policy at the European Union (EU) level represent a change towards a more ambitious social policy normatively and in regulatory terms. Normatively, the EU aims, through the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), to develop a ‘European social union’, which aims to lead to upwards social convergence; yet this is difficult due to the principle of subsidiarity. In some areas, where regulatory instruments are used, the EU could lead to upwards convergence, but this entails a risk of regulatory tension with member states because the costs for upwards social convergence lie in member states. In some cases – such as work–life balance and minimal working conditions for precarious workers – it may be possible to overcome regulatory tension, but in other areas it could create more challenges rather than solve the social shortcomings that it targets. If the EU is to become a fully-fledged regulatory European social union, then it is also likely to be an EU regulatory welfare state, creating tension between the EU and national levels of governance. Although the EPSR clearly aims for scenario 5 – doing much more together – in practice it is most likely to be differentiated, whereby the implementation of the principles will be close to scenario 3, those who want more do more.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Futures : Challenges and Crossroads for the European Union of 2050
EditorsChad Damro, Elke Heins, Drew Scott
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780367444389, 9780367444433, 9781000366303
ISBN (Electronic)9781003009733
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesRoutledge Advances In European Politics

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