Introduction: the European Social Model: a Contested Concept

  • Jörg Huffschmid


Two historic events marked the development of the European Union (EU) in the second quarter of 2004. On 1 May eight countries from the former eastern European socialist bloc entered the EU, ending the historical East-West divide and opening the perspective of a comprehensive all-European development strategy. Less than two months later, on 18 June, the European Council in Brussels adopted the European Constitution, promising to end the hitherto unsatisfactory bias of European integration towards economic themes and to open the way to a broader, constitution-based political union. This simultaneous widening and deepening of the EU should provide a political foundation for the economic and social ambitions formulated in March 2000 at the Lisbon summit: that the Union should become the ‘most competitive economic region in the world, with more and better jobs’, reaching full employment with a high level of social cohesion and democratic participation of the people. Is the agenda set for the implementation of a ‘European Social Model’, a term which the EU adopted from the social movements and introduced into official documents at the summit of Barcelona in 2002?1 Such a strong model would strengthen the European position in the world and help to implement strategic global projects for development, eradication of poverty and better environmental protection.


European Union Member Country European Central Bank European Council Labour Market Policy 
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  1. Diamantopoulou, A., ‘The European Social Model — Myth or Reality?’ Address at the fringe meeting organized by the European Commission’s Representation in the UK within the framework of the Labour Party Conference, manuscript, 2003 ( Scholar
  2. Esping-Anderson, G., The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  3. European Council, Presidency Conclusions, Barcelona European Council, 15 and 16 March 2002 ( Scholar
  4. Polanyi, K., The Great Transformation (New York: Rinehart, 1944).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Huffschmid
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BremenGermany

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