- Colin Crouch, The deceptive myth of the European social model, Eutopia Magazine,
We like this article because it explodes the myth of a “European social model”. In fact a “European social model” as such does not exist (what does exist is the difference between social legislations in Europe at large and elsewhere, but such a gap hardly justifies any talk of one social model). At the outset of the European integration process, states were supposed to develop their own welfare systems even as the conditions for the common/single market and workers’ mobility were being developed at European level. The deepening of European integration heralded by the Maastricht Treaty did hold out the promise of a European social citizenship, but alas, that was to be perhaps the most egregious unfulfilled promise of the whole post-Maastricht settlement. Welfare systems have been the primary victims of the neoliberal/ordoliberal assault – seemingly at “Europe”’s bidding.
A “European social model” needs to be thought anew and built up from scratch, if we care about it. How? That’s certainly difficult, and we do not attempt to provide an answer here (nor does Colin Crouch). But we can at least start thinking about it by asking ourselves a couple of questions at random. Are we ready to regard ourselves (i.e. us Europeans) as a people that should enjoy equal social citizenship rights – although such rights may well be implemented in different ways according to local traditions and circumstances? What steps are we ready to take, here and now, to fight social dumping, which reproduces territorial imbalances and spells the death of any aspirations to a “European social model”. We may well not be ready in either case. In which case we are hardly ready to protect our own national welfare system either.