Edited by Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald
Chapter 24: The European Union and social policy
24. The European Union and social policy Gerda Falkner1 This brief statement will ﬁrst outline the division of social policy competences between the European Union and its member states. I will then analyse the incremental development of EC/EU2 social regulation and activities to highlight that there are indicators for a kind of ‘political union’ even far beyond ‘economic and monetary union’. 1. THE DISTRIBUTION OF COMPETENCES BETWEEN THE EEC AND ITS MEMBER STATES The founding fathers of European integration apparently intended social policy competences to basically stay a national aﬀair. The 1957 EEC Treaty did not provide for an outright Europeanization of social policies since too many delegations had opposed this. Nevertheless, the Treaty contained a small number of concessions for those delegations who argued for more political ‘intervention’ in the area. These were mainly the provisions on equal pay for both sexes (Art. 119 of the EEC Treaty), maintaining ‘the existing equivalence between paid holiday schemes’ (Art. 120 of the EEC Treaty), and the establishment of a ‘European Social Fund’ (Art. 123–128 of the EEC Treaty). Two of the three above-mentioned concessions (that is equal pay and the Social Fund) rose in importance during the process of European integration while the issue of equivalent paid holiday schemes was not taken any further. The other provisions of the original Treaty’s Title III on ‘social policy’ included some solemn social policy provisions, yet without empowering the EEC to act. Yet in other areas of EEC activity the Commission was...
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