Europe is built on competition which stimulates, on cooperation which strengthens, and solidarity which unites
In this chapter, the authors discuss the social challenges and requirements for European project building from the French perspective, specifically having regard to proposals made by President Emmanuel Macron.
The Internal Market is based on ‘a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress’ (Article 2 TFEU). The European Union (EU) and its member states need to strike the right balance between the freedom of services and the protection of workers, now and in the future. The convergence between member states raises the question of how to ensure a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth among the people as well as the need to tackle various imbalances in mobility/low-cost competition (West) and worker shortages/negative trends (East). A reset of the social agenda could be the answer to social concerns that has the potential to prevent national populism. As declared by President Macron, social convergence should be the new European challenge after monetary and economic convergence.
The authors consider the following questions: How should the EU address structural discrepancies between western and eastern, as well as northern and southern, European countries? How should it avoid the realisation of the fears of the ‘old’ member states concerning social dumping and ‘downward harmonisation’? How can eastern and southern countries be helped to avoid the middle-income trap and given a chance to catch up with the other member states? Are member states undergoing a convergence process? What does the future hold for the posting of workers?