The social turn? Towards a new understanding of the benefits of Social Europe
The European Union (EU) envisions inclusive growth distributed evenly both among and within the Member States. Since the early 1970s, market-based and capital-favouring solutions were assumed to ensure such growth. The crisis of 2008 forced the Union to revise these precepts. The solutions being sought currently are expected to curb the creeping divergence within and among the EU’s economies. At Member State level, the challenge is to construct ‘inclusive capitalism’. At the EU level, the goal is to further social objectives under the guidance of the principles of the free movement of people, goods and services. The restoration of social aims as a policy objective means that more decisions are subject to parliamentary approval due to their redistributive nature. This may elevate the significance of nation-states in the Union’s decision-making in a departure from the current model of tightening the Union’s rules by expanding areas relying on technocratic and apolitical solutions. Drafting new regulations is made more difficult by the unavailability, at the level of theoretical concepts, of models that account for the post-crisis experience that results from the fact that a regulated and stable labour market is not only a burden but also a source of a ‘social dividend’.