Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
Chapter 2: European Convergence and the EU Social Model
2. European Convergence and the EU Social Model Kees Vos INTRODUCTION The process of European integration had from the start primarily an economic dimension, with the main aim of the establishment of a common market. During the 1950s and 1960s economic integration was the main policy objective, while keeping social policy firmly national. As far as harmonization of national social legislation took place, it had mainly to do with the fear of unfair competition. Discrepancies of workers’ safety and health protection and of payment of women had been identified as factors that could distort competition between Member States (Chassard 2002). Community social action was restricted to the co-ordination of social security schemes in order to ensure the rights of migrant workers. Since the 1980s more emphasis has been given to the development of a social dimension and the development of a social policy at European level. Although many policy initiatives with regard to the social dimension developed in the 1980s, it was a very gradual development. During the 1990s, changes in the Treaty and new policy developments implied more fundamental changes in European policymaking. It is almost needless to say that the social dimension did not take precedence over the economic dimension. On the other hand, it is also clear that the notion of a European social model has gained more substance since then and the need to develop and implement such a model has been a topic for debate. The first question to be answered in this chapter is...
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