chapter  6
22 Pages

The paradox of the social dimension

At the June 1997 Amsterdam European Council, the EU's leaders moved with remarkable alacrity to reunite the disparate social provisions of the EC Treaty, thereby bringing to an end the twin-stream process for making social policy that had formally operated since the signing of the Maastricht Protocol on Social Policy in 1992. The United Kingdom's lengthy disengagement from mainstream Community social policy, beginning with Mrs Thatcher's refusal to accept the Community's 1989 Social Charter, will, however, have longer-term effects not just for the UK, which has to bring its laws into conformity with the acquis already adhered to by the 'Fourteen', but also for the Community as a whole, now that there is an apparent political consensus and no pariah state to blame for inactivity in the social policy field.