The European Social Question

Tackling Key Controversies

Amandine Crespy

£65.00  |  $90.00
ISBN 9781788213578
£24.99  |  $35.00
ISBN 9781788213585
£24.99  |  $35.00
ISBN 9781788213592
256 pages   |  216 x 138mm   |  27 January 2022


Since the turn of the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly clear that the European Union is falling short of its promise to enhance social cohesion across the continent. In the face of rising financial capitalism, technological and demographic change, societies across Europe are experiencing old and new forms of poverty and the rise of social inequality. Throughout the EU, welfare state modernization has been at the centre of divisive debates over the redistribution of wealth, and imbalances between a wealthy European core and its peripheries persist. Today more than ever, the policies and governance structures of the EU are seen as part of the problem rather than the solution.

This book asks the questions: can the EU contribute to social policy-making and social cohesion, or does it undermine it? And should its action in the social realm be intensified, or curtailed? Taking nine key controversies in the debate around EU social policy-making, the book explores the issues and arguments that emerge around them. In doing so, the book helps students and researchers alike to understand how the EU operates and shapes social policy on multiple levels and to better assess the EU's role in supporting social cohesion.


Introduction: “Social Europe”: irrelevant, catching up, or dangerous?
1. What is the European social question?
2. Is the EU a key player in addressing social issues?
3. Are socially-minded actors too weak in EU policy-making?
4. Is European social regulation a thing of the past?
5. Does liberalization undermine social cohesion?
6. Does the European social dialogue really protect European workers?
7. Does soft coordination support welfare states?
8. Is redistribution unconditional?
9. Is the EU fit for the social challenges of the twenty-first century?
Conclusion: from the social question to the democratic question
Index of CJEU Rulings

Author Information

Amandine Crespy is Associate Professor in Political Science and European Studies at the Université libre de Bruxelles and a visiting professor at the College of Europe, Bruges. She is the author of Welfare Markets in Europe: The Democratic Challenge of European Integration (2016) and Governance and Politics in the Post-Crisis European Union (with V. Schmidt) (2020).

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