Carter, Caitriona A. (1997) "The 'European Social Model'". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
In the wake of the Treaty on European Union, there has been renewed interest in social policy within EU circles. Much of this renewed interest has materialised in high profile political arenas with appeals to the 'European social model.' The phrase is used in a large number of documents emanating from various Community institutions, European-level organisations and national Governments. This paper establishes an analytical framework to consider alternative conceptualisations of the 'European social model' and asks two key questions: how is the 'Europeans social model' being conceptualised in high level EC/EU discussions and in the policy documents themselves? What is significant about the way in which it is being conceptualised? Why, for example, are the Commission's and European Council's conceptualisations of this model significant? In fact, the phrase 'European social model' is misleading. Instead, the paper starts by talking about the 'European social bargain,' rather than the 'European social model,' and in particular, considers a crisis in the European social bargain. The paper does not attempt to consider in any detail the nature of both internal and external pressures on social policy in Europe. The focus is rather on the process of policy-making and the consideration of the 'European social bargain' as it is being conceptualised as a framework for further development of policy. There are two parts to the paper: the first establishes the analytical framework for the discussion of the 'European social bargain.' The second examines the slogan of the 'European social model' as developed at the Community level and as detailed in policy documents. The key question developed in the course of the paper is whether it is indeed possible to reconcile multi-tiered governance--and its policy output--with the rhetorical slogan of the 'European social model.'
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