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The Sustainability of the European Social Model

The Sustainability of the European Social Model

EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe

Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

This book argues that the European Social Model can only be sustained in the current economic crisis if social and employment policies are adequately recognised as integral parts of European economic policy-making. The contributing authors investigate this hypothesis through comparative evaluations of interactions of EU economic governance with national systems of social protection. In particular they focus on two key policy areas – social services of general interest and the regulation of working time – as well as covering areas such as social inclusion, active ageing policies and job quality. By combining sociological approaches with legal analyses, the book provides unique insights and evaluation of EU methods of governance.

Chapter 2: EU governance of sustainable development: Social and environmental policies

Iain Begg

Subjects: law - academic, european law, labour, employment law, law and society, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Sustainable development is an elusive concept that encompasses the macroeconomic and the social, as well as the environmental. It has become a defining principle of European socio-economic development, but is also beset by many uncertainties which bear on how it is interpreted in governance terms. This chapter reviews the governance of sustainable development in the EU in the light of the many uncertainties and conceptual ambiguities that surround policy-making in this area. Although sustainability offers an appealing conceptual framework for the socio-economic development of the EU, a key conclusion of the chapter is that it struggles to provide clear directions for decision-making. Nevertheless, it will remain important as a norm for the EU’s future development.

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