Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Erika Szyszczak
Chapter 14: European Economic Rights and National State Aids Policy in Conflict: The Problem of the Democratic Securing of Welfare
Michelle Everson I. THE MISMATCH BETWEEN SUPRANATIONAL ECONOMIC POLICIES AND NATIONAL WELFARE The co-ordination of economic and welfare (or social policies) within the EU is well documented. Clearly, the problem largely remains one of the level at which each set of policies is pursued, and the subsequent difficulties of national/supranational policy co-ordination: even post conclusion of the Treaty of Lisbon 2009, the EU’s social competence remains very weak when compared with its economic role; Member States continue to bear the primary responsibility for the formulation and management of socially-redistributive mechanisms. Alternatively, where Member States remain jealous of their interventionist competence, and the EU is still denied meaningful fiscal powers in order to enable its own form of social intervention, conflict cannot but arise – for a highly topical example – between the fiscal probity demanded by the ‘Growth and Stability Pact’ at supranational level and the socially-corrective interventionist demands (home State welfare and host State support for the movement of labour) arising out of such fiscal commitments at national level. So far, so conventional: and yet, such an obvious lack of political, social and economic co-ordination is merely the tip of an iceberg of a continuing chasm between the deep structural/constitutional commitments of the Member States to redistributive economic policies and a body of EU law that is deeply anchored within the efficiency paradigms of economic rationality and, more particularly, in the assumption of separate pursuit of identifiable socially-redistributive goals within a distinct social budget. In stark contrast to the apparent political...