Sessione 16

Social protection in the EU: could one speak of a “return of nations”?

Coordinatore/i di sessione: Jean-Claude Barbier (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne)


Testo della Call

Unanimous understanding now exists among social scientists as to the dismal fate of what was once proudly called “social Europe” by social reformers in the Commission and many social scientists and in certain countries (especially Italy and France) – some layers of social policies transnationally grafted on national social protection institutions and policies. The general situation of the specialized field of European studies has been entirely transformed with the withering of what is still called “cosmopolitanism”. From 2008 on, the very structure of “social Europe” was entirely transformed under the pressure of two trends: the devastating effect of the coordination of fiscal and budgetary policies (what was approximatively dubbed as “austerity”), and the extension of the reach of EU law, i. e. mainstream economic EU law. Numerous events have added to this evolution, despite some limited efforts to counteract it: examples of such failed attempts include the ideational innovation of “social investment” (with a Communication of the Commission in February 2013) and, most probably, the European Pillar of Social Rights launched in Brussels in January 2017 with little avail.

Additionally, in numerous cases, the role of national or infra-national dimensions have tended to counteract/replace what is left of “Social Europe”. The most blatant area of policy in this respect has been so-called “migratory” policies, with contradictory policies entirely decided upon the basis of national interests. But this is not the only area: in the domain of EU social law (and especially the case law of the CJEU), important changes have been noted. Contrary to what is generally considered, such changes also affect the uses of English and national languages.

Does this amount to a “return of nations”, as if “nations” had somehow faded away when transnationalism and cosmopolitanism were running the show? The session will be devoted to the examination of such trends, visible across the EU, in particular in some countries, including the changes brought about by Brexit in the UK (and its consequences), but also in individual countries like Italy, Germany and France.

Contributions expected can address the evolution of ideas in countries, for example in Italy and France or in Germany, as well as the evolution of transnational frames of references (for instance the debate about cosmopolitan ideas and European integration; the debate about populism and anti-Europeanism); they can also take cases of practices, especially in immigration and asylum policies for instance, as well as recent development of social benefits and ‘welfare chauvinism’. They may also discuss the potential impact of EU policies upon national situations (the European Pillar of Social Rights, Social investment..).

 Referente per la corrispondenza


Papers accettati

Assessing the Impact of Intra-EU Mobility on National Welfare States: Who Receives the Benefits? A Cross- Country Comparison (M.G. Montanari)

Work(s)-care (re) conciliation within the European Pillar of Social Rights. Travelling perspectives through the Italian politics (F. Bimbi e A. M. Toffanin)

From the Social Investment Package to the Pillar of Social Rights: continuity and change in EU social policy (F. Corti, P. Vesan e S. Sabato)

The radical gap, European citizens’ actual political condition and cosmopolitan scientists convictions (J.C. Barbier)


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