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Democracy versus Solidarity in the EU Discourse

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Jozef Niznik

It is hard to find another two concepts which would be more significant in the European integration discourse than «democracy» and «solidarity» and at the same time more ambiguous in the political practice of integration. Currently European integration discourse is being organized around the concept of democracy. Analyzing European integration discourse the author argues that the situation is quite paradoxical because in order to secure democracy in the EU, European integration discourse must be organized not around the concept of democracy but around the concept of solidarity. The book attempts to show in more details the context of the clash of these fundamental values which serve also as the leading political principles of European integration. Therefore several further concepts and problems have been discussed such as the issue of identity, the concept of citizenship and the problem of nationalism. Since the theoretical framework of the analysis have been built around the idea of discourse the inevitable consequence was to look at some aspects of communication and the links between conceptual and normative development of the European integration.

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Chapter III: European integration discourse and identity

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42 Chapter II development of the EU social policy which lacks the necessary instruments. There is a still more serious consequence of this situation. The domestic politics of the Member States are predominantly centred on local matters while the success of the EU (and in effect of its Member States) depends on taking into consideration the competitiveness of the Union’s economy on the global scene. Since an adequate social policy is supposed to serve greater cohesion of the EU and improve the effectiveness of labour, imposition in this area of a common normative framework would be beneficial for the global position of the EU economy. Of course, such a normative framework can still respect some national specificities, for example in the prioritization of social objectives as Bent Greve suggested. In order to achieve this situation the European Union needs to increase its political integration. The idea of the welfare state can be turned into common European norms of social policy only by moving some decision making in this area from the nation state to the supranational organs of the EU. Common EU norms in social matters can in the Member States result in comparable instru- ments of social policy, for example in the rules setting retirement and unem- ployment benefits. Such comparability – along with EU fiscal discipline – is imperative if solidarity is to be the leading principle in the Union. Therefore, the EU needs deeper political integration allowing more compe- tences for its supranational organs as well as its most...

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