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Solidarity and social Europe

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As the economic and financial crisis has affected European countries unequally since 2008, the EU is asking itself how much responsibility and solidarity is necessary to overcome the challenge. Solidarity mechanisms lacking in monetary union have been created only in extremis. Questions over the existing elements of European solidarity, and their limits, are now being asked openly.

Such questions are especially important given the tensions that they occasion among national public opinion and political leaders at European level. These tensions go beyond macro-economic questions, also affecting solidarity mechanisms within the Schengen area and, to varying degrees, other EU actions including in the agriculture and energy sectors.

The Jacques Delors Institute’s works on the concept of European solidarity are inspired by the vision of Jacques Delors, in which European policies are constructed around a triptych which today is more relevant than ever: “Competition to stimulate, cooperation to give strength, solidarity to unite”. This vision, embodied in the Single European Act of 1988, was inspired notably by the 1987 report “Stability, Efficiency, Equity”, in which Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa indicates how to deepen economic and social integration in a balanced manner.

The Jacques Delors Institute is also looking at the future of social Europe in a time of crisis. It is taking a broad approach to the subject, looking beyond the social effects of the internal market to the EU’s actions on employment and the ways in which European policies (in particular, the recent reforms of the EU’s economic governance) affect national systems of welfare and employment protection.

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