The Idea of the European Social Model: Limits and Paradoxes of Europeanization

Daniel Wincott

in The Politics of Europeanization

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780199252091
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599224 | DOI:
 The Idea of the European Social Model: Limits and Paradoxes of Europeanization

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Both positive and negative integration can produce Europeanization, but while the former, which generally implies the specification of a European model, is more likely to be politically loaded with explicit normative content, the latter relies upon social and economic agents taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the removal of barriers to generate Europeanization from below. The European Social Model (ESM) is arguably the clearest example of a normatively loaded (putative) European model. Partly as a result, the lessons that the history of the ESM can teach are not those of Europeanization producing a gradual and steady convergence of national practices and policies based on a positive model; instead, it suggests that the processes of European integration and of Europeanization are not wholly distinct and neatly separated stages or phases, nor is Europeanization itself necessarily clear and coherent. The author, however, suggests that there is considerable analytical value in distinguishing between European integration and Europeanization. The chapter is developed in five main sections: the first considers the concept of Europeanization, emphasizing both its analytical value and the difficulty of applying it to the European Union (EU); the second section, ‘Is There a Common Social Model in Europe’, analyses whether a common ESM can be identified across the states of the EU; the third section, ‘Is the European Social Model a Product of Europeanization?’, turns to the question of whether the ESM was a product of Europeanization; the fourth section, ‘The European Social Model II: A ‘Triumphant Return’ or ‘Second Time as Farce’, analyses the reappearance of the ESM on the European Union policy agenda as a part of the legitimizing discourse surrounding the ‘Open Method of Co-ordination’ (OMe), introduced at the Lisbon meeting of the European Council in 2000; a brief conclusion returns to issues of and debates about Europeanization.

Keywords: European integration; European Social Model; European Union; Europeanization; policy models

Chapter.  11247 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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