From the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis, the State of the Art
As Europe struggles with the most profound economic and social crises in recent history, what happens to the promises of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person proclaimed in the Preamble of the Treaty on European Union? How does the European Union intend to demonstrate its commitment to fundamental social rights at a time of widespread deregulation and an increasingly precarious labour market? How can we further enhance the democratic and efficient functioning of European institutions when there is a growing distance between citizens and political elites?
This publication is based on papers given at the international conference «Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union – from the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis: The State of the Art», which took place in the School of Law at the University of Minho, Portugal, in May 2012. The line-up of contributors includes scholars from southern and northern Europe and Brazil, and together the papers constitute a lively and productive debate about the future of Europe.
Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union. From Brussels to Echternach? (Francine Mestrum)
← 366 | 367 →Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union
Global Social Justice
“We want a social and democratic Europe”, “The ‘European social model’ has to be preserved”: it is not too difficult to fill some pages with demands for social policies and confirmations of European leaders that they will deliver. But how is this “social Europe” faring? Where do we come from and where are we heading to? In this contribution I will give a short history of thinking on social policies since the inception of and in the European Community and the European Union. I will show how the social paradigm has changed and how, in 2012, it seems we are heading for a total breakdown of the old model.
Theoretically, this analysis is based on the discourses of different European Union institutions and on the “order of discourse” approach of Michel Foucault. It looks at how knowledge is being constructed and changed, leading – or not – to a new consensus that will guide policies in the coming years. This sociology of knowledge is less concerned with what is right or what is wrong, than with the way new “truths” are emerging and with the way different agents are contributing to and influencing the meaning of concepts and discourses. The “European social model”, as we will see, is an ambivalent concept that can be very misleading if it is not defined and clarified. Discourses are indeed sites of power and of resistance.
The first question we have to look...
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