TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Februar 2010

Sektion 8.1. Prekäre Lebensbedingungen, unsichere Arbeitsverhältnisse – Expansion sozialer Ungleichheiten. Auf dem Weg von der Peripherie zum Zentrum?
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair: Rolf-Dieter Hepp (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Reforming the European Social Model: Platform Proposal

Marco Ricceri (Eurispes, General Secretary; Rome) [BIO]


1 – Sharing a definition
2 – Sharing a commitment
3 – Sharing an approach to the global scene
4 – A european social model that sustains the environment
5 – A reform of the european social model : working on an axis of support
5.1 – Systems of social protection
5.2 – Services of general interest
5.3 – Social dialogue - Industrial Relations - Economic Democracy
5.3.1 Social Dialogue
5.3.2 Industrial Relations
5.3.3 Economic Democracy
6. – The european social model for the reinforcement and requalification of the european union
6.1 The convergence of national social systems
6.2 Harmony between economic development and social promotion
6.3 European social governance: institutions
6.4 European social governance: the policies
Theories and methods of referral


A series of concrete proposals aimed to favour a reform of the European Social Model in a certain sense, reinforcing and qualifying it, means a practical translation of the positive interpretation of that Model that was adapted as a point of referral by the European Research Group in the European Social Model – ESM Project”.

The European Group’s Coordinators are: Prof. Detlev Albers, President of the Bremer Forum fuer Europaeische Regional Politik, at the University of Bremen (Germany); Prof. Stephen Haseler, Director of The Global Policy Institute at the Metropolitan University of London (UK); Prof. Gian Maria Fara, President of Istituto Eurispes, Rome (Italy).

Concrete proposals of reform developed following an intensely challenging movement by the Group in the last years at the European level. They collected and calculated values into coherent and synthetic frameworks, many of the indications and evaluations that have been brought to their attention by experts, policy decision makers and operators, particularly during the two European conferences organized in Rome in 2006 and 2007.

The document presents itself as a framework of indications and orientations that are considered useful both to stimulate the latest initiatives of in depth study, to reflect and to debate these issues, and to elaborate programs and policy actions. In this case, it is the intention of the sponsors that this framework should be a working instrument available to the scientific community, policy makers, and leaders in the economic and social development sectors.


1 – Sharing a definition

The proposals thus presented assume that it is essential that a definition of the European Social Model should be based on the following values:

  1. historical tradition;
  2. actual, concrete experience;
  3. shared planning.

All the European states took part in this research and agreed. without exception, despite their diverse national beliefs.

The following guidelines and regulations with respect to traditions, experiences and planning within the specific nations and within the EU, have been adopted:

  1. social justice;
  2. economic progress and environmental protection;
  3. national solidarity;
  4. democracy;
  5. human dignity.

Based on these values and common principles, in continental Europe all the states have built a basic framework to sustain their social campaign and monitor the weakest areas of their respective communities – and continue to monitor – a specific group of institutions, laws and organizations. In parallel, civil society continually participates and reinforces this kind of public program - above all - within its collectively organized groups and in its professional and voluntary associations. It involves a common feeling, a collective effort – reflected also in the huge financial commitment as part of the national wealth (GNP) – that the individual organization designates for the common effort. Actually, this has also characterized and still today characterizes the life of the European states in their planning and policies for the future.

A definition: The European Social Model (ESM) in its most basic sense is best understood as a Europe-wide shared political value and aspiration based on the notion of ecological and social sustainability. It acknowledges that the conservation of human livelihood and the protection from life risks – such as ill health, unemployment and old age – are indispensable requirements for a good society. The implementation and degree of realisation of the European Social Model varies across the European nations. Yet there are some key ESM elements:

Each element has to go along with the overall aim of expanding prosperity and the creation of decent jobs. The European Social Model thus represents a distinctive composition of strong democratic statehood, educational, environmental and social policies, and a responsive political economy.


2 – Sharing a commitment

Qualify and reinforce the European Social Model:

► Open question: Regarding this, an open question to resolve is linked to the following: adaptation or reform? In this case, it involves choosing between two different policy options both of which have very different consequences.


3 – A shared approach to the global scene


The scenario in which we find the E.S.M. reform is defined by rapid and intense structural changes that are bound to the processes of globalization and that totally absorb our society in theirs:

In this scene, the E.S.M. reform seems like an inevitable necessity, and more so to become valid and efficient, it cannot be pursued without making reference to, as a priority, these global pressures without including them as an integral part of its reform procedure. On the contrary, the true alternative to the modernization of the diffuse system of social controls and its relative services is in their inevitable reduction with the consequential loss of advanced progress in situations of civil (rights), ethic (solidarity), policy (democratic) and economic (growth) that has marked European history for decades.

A reform of the E.S.M. that takes these changes and global pressures as a reference point must aim, above all, maintain within these processes, respect for the principle of the social and environmental sustainability of development. With this end in mind, we agree that those guidelines that aim to combine the principles of welfare with the rigidly unilateral principles of competition - more precisely - an adaptation of the demands of welfare to the demands of competition, is wrong and misleading. On the contrary, in order to create the  conditions which consent to bring together an exchange of values and opposing needs ( for example, solidarity and stabilizing values of the E.S.M. and the individualistic and destabilizing values of globalization), we need to proceed contemporaneously along a duplicate reform path, both of the E.S.M., and of the same globalization. However, this involves:

The testing ground for the duplicate reform is based on the following elements: on one side, the ability of the policy makers to know how to build a single-voiced answer for the European Social Model reform despite globalization, to elaborate a broader vision of the European Social Model (from local to global). On the other hand, contemporaneously, identify the conditions for it actual application on the international scene; and also, on the ability to elaborate, promote and to declare one global social policy defined by a system of laws, institutions and rules to be built, for now on a European scale, then on an international scale. This would arouse all levels of effective policy redistribution which are a direct consequence of the application of principles of justice and social and environmental sustainability. Today these tools actually do not exist.

The next decade should be dedicated to the role of Europe in the world and working to modify what it can contribute to the globalization process. When Europe knows how to proceed in this direction, much more will be possible to render these procedures acceptable. To follow this course, it is necessary to:

Proposal: Globalization and social sustainability

  1. a definition of the general theoretical and political boundaries of global social policy, to mean something similar to an instrument to assure that globalization assures contemporaneously: economic growth, reduced inequality, sustainability and progress of welfare and environmental protection;
  2. defining proposals and programs to introduce and be used in the affirmative action plan within the idea of their social and environmental sustainability in the global scene with reference to policy action (policies) and to the system of organized structures (polity) on which to apply them or to intervene. These refer to laws, institutions, policies and governmental systems and regulation plans for development (flex-regulation, as in international agreements and treaties, legislation and private-collective contractual solutions) indicators of reference, measures of reference and measures of stabilization for a democratic plan for the communities assailed by global pressures;
  3. defining of the main criteria in preservation/reduction of economic and social inequalities, redistribution of the wealth yielded and the effectiveness of environmental protection;
  4. d identifying a balance point between the level of the span of the national system intervention or of an area of investments and to international commerce, that is, with reference to the positive or negative effects on the institutional and political system;
  5. Comparative evaluation of the European Social Model in relationship to the most important international areas; the duplication and the extensibility towards other social areas of the EU initiative to maintain European standards (salaries, labour conditions, environmental protection, etc.);
  6. f evaluating of the role of the public sector and private operators of global development and proposals that affront the question of balancing between governments, multinationals and sopranationalistic enterprises and social organizations; measuring the level of dedication or involvement to the principles of social sustainability on the part of the intergovernmental organizations like the IMF, WTO, THE WORLD BANK and other international NGO’s; g recognizing the value of collective bargaining at the international level. Support action of sopranationalistic initiatives of the unions to promote re-launch of activities at this level; based upon the general consideration of collective action versus individual action. All this based on the premise that a union only has a future if it seconds the changes which are within its own national interests, it broadens its vision and its credibility in the rest of the world. Following this is international justice, which is a source of peace and security; also here national interests follow suit. On a more general scale, evaluating the relationship between individual social answers that are parcelled out and collectively and jointly backed, answers and their the outcomes due to the different types of answers when affronting global pressures.

Proposal: the exportability of the European Social Model

► Open question: Do the actual EU institutional organizations - its system of separate and combined sovereignty, of the shared competencies within the EU and within its member states and the level of integration achieved - provide a complete and sufficient system of guarantees to pursue the objective for the exportability of the E.S.M. into other areas of the world?

► Open question: the transferability of social models. The transfer of social models is a huge scientific and open polical question. The fact is that all the international organizations who tried to transfer or manage economic and social models from the most advanced realities to the most backward ones, have all failed.


4 – Environmental sustainability


The question of environmental sustainability in development is an integral part of the relative questions for the construction of the European Social Model. In agreement with the Lisbon strategy, the economic-state and the social-welfare-state relationships must be held accountable for what has come about on the environmental scene, above all, following the dramatic rupture of fundamental equilibriums and accepting it as an essential reference point.

The main problem posed by environmental issues concerns the type of growth and development that is promoted in modern, industrialized societies where growth and development are a primary reference point -before those of social policies.

On the other hand, social policy promotion, within its proper scope – in unison with human dignity, with civil and democratic progress, with social justice and with the spread of material wealth – proposes as the end to its means the “quality of life”. This is strictly connected to the protection of the natural system and the organization of the environment in which the human being lives and functions.

A reflection on the type of growth and development that is documented in the globalized world, with reference to the degree of damage to the environment, brings us to another completely different spectrum –to evaluate the need for change precisely in the type of development that is being pursued.

The alternative scenario is a type of development that adapts as its fundamental referral point, organization -defined as the “economy of living well”. This is centred, not so much on the satisfaction of the individual’s material and immaterial needs, and bounded to exasperating consumerism, but completely opposite – on satisfying collective needs. It is true that if Europe would effectively adopt and operate within this alternative scenario and alternative type of economy, it would create the best conditions and set an example for the recovery as main player in a guiding role for the same processes of world globalization.

The EU must move in this direction, its states and its industries, must concentrate their actions on economic and industrial policy, financial resources, scientific research and technological innovations.

♦ Proposals: state, industry and the “economy of living well”

For affirmative action in this alternative scenario, the state is held to:

  1. recuperate its role of planning economic and growth initiatives;
  2. identify the areas where intervention on the collective needs of society are most needed (for example, the requalification of urban areas, defence and re-evaluation of the territory, infrastructural networks, agriculture as a source of healthy nourishment, cultural heritage protection, alternative energy sources and peace and security);
  3. to assign adequate financial resources to support more intense public investment and to create areas that are truly suited to private investment (attracting and stimulating private investments) that satisfy the collective need and build new relationships of collaboration in both the public and private sector within the sphere of the “economy of living well”.

♦ Proposals: operate in wide areas and with shared guidelines

In a globalized world, both social policy and environmental policy require applications within a vast area in order to guarantee the efficiency of their interventions. Likewise, they require the use of units of measure like planning and definitions of standards and shared parameters. Crucial for evaluations and adequate choices, these indexes are relative to the quality of development.

Specifically, we propose to organize a common matrix for a plan of interpretation and evaluation of social and environmental coefficients of economic growth, to introduce a system of collective material and immaterial needs – referring essentially to the “economy of living well”. All this is within the system of social needs to be adopted as a reference point with the objective of a system with even and balanced development.

► Open question: How to promote a democratic participation plan of the social elements in the choice of how to preserve the environment? How to reward the participation of the citizens involved in these environmental choices and with which methodologies?


5 – A reform of the european social model: working on an axis of support


A true reform of the European Social Model is substantially based upon a combination of policies and action plans to be promoted in a direction that is two-fold:

To act efficiently following this two-fold direction, at first, we must:

The action plan for reform of the European Social Model operates on the following main foundations: the social protection systems, services of general interest, social dialogue, industrial relations and economic democracy.

5. 1 - Social protection systems

♦ Proposal: For a pro-active social welfare state

Within the framework of the passage from a system of welfare that is passive, where the state substantially limits itself to recognize and compensate the harm that its citizens succumb (for example, in the case of unemployment, sickness or accidents) to a system of welfare that is pro-active, in which the state builds a different relationship with its citizens instead - calling upon them to assume more important responsibilities and to participate actively in the organization and management of protection policies, a strategic relevance that is achieved by three specific elements upon which is proposed to operate:

  1. the involvement of the work force in social protection policy making. With this aim in mind, specific action plans to reinforce and qualify the participation of paid work and key topics within the labour marketplace that directly are managed and organized by social policies, including those for new social risk prevention must be defined.
  2. the direct involvement of the citizens (empowerment) - citizens as responsible users, that are able to represent fully and freely their own needs, also, in the end, realizing best by themselves, how to responsibly participate in the organizational action plan of answers and their solutions;
  3. the strengthening of local services of welfare. In the whole of Europe the service area is revealing itself as an area most fitted to promote previously mentioned situations with the active participation of the workers and the citizens (even if, to date, local services consume quite an inferior level of public spending compared to national social security and health spending, for example). The model shows that a new, pro-active social welfare state, more precisely, a social model truly rooted in the community, can be born from decentralizing services in the service sector of the territories. From this, the premise to promote:
    1. support action plans for the displacement of the central focal point of public policy action from the centre to the periphery, from national policy planning to regional and local, also to build a situation of major closeness to the new demands of society. This is more suitable and, on one side, suited to the organization of personalizing responses or answers and, on the other favours the democratic participation in the management of social services and policymaking.
    2. support action and promotion of the start of a new governance in social services and policy making. This does not mean that the relationship between the citizens and the public administration must be redesigned. A situation of involvement in the pro-active action plan and management of public services of all sorts, public and private, that make up the network of local governance must be created. The local policy network should not exist independent of its public, but be a part of a network in which the state and the marketplace interact with the social partners, the associations of the Third sector and voluntary services.
    3. support action to create a plural foundation for the regulation of welfare that is connected to the new type of governance and that is made up of a combination of national, regional and local regulations originating from public and private sources;
    4. support action for the diffusion of relational services to the people and families, like a third area in expansion, able to respond to the broadened needs of the family and often without answers, a source of occupational growing action plan, even if generally tied to a low wage situation;
    5. support action to the proven, functional systems working specifically toward social inclusion, in particular women in the work world, keeping in mind the complexity of the situation to which female emancipation is tied to the productive structure and the culture of the family.

► Open question: Which are the solutions to identify to correct the trade off of the occupational plan/low remuneration plan that characterizes the system of related services because of the low level of productivity that it represents?

5. 2 – Services of general interest

♦ Proposal: European public interest

The European Union must define and accept the public interest as a fundamental principal orientation to overcome the limitations of a situational action plan, that for social policy and the system of services, until now refers only to “general economic interests”. With this in mind, it continues to underestimate the fact that these services are bound to, above all, the rights of the citizenry and only after having dealt with each and every consequence of this symbiosis, The open question of their economic sustainability must be affronted.

♦ Proposal: social regulation action plan – regulation action plan of the marketplace

With reference to the relationship between the state - market and, in particular, the relationship that connects the regulation action plan of the social model to the regulation action plan of the market, we must confirm  the regulating function of the state in relation to the universal services (for example, the education plan, health plan, etc.) and define the limits within which it can function because the regulatory action plan on the market considers that these services are not negotiable in the same way as goods and commercial services. In more general terms, the affirmation of the regulatory role of the state must be in parallel with the initiatives of comparison and verification promoted by both sides, the social policy side and the citizens, holding as a final objective the reconfirmation of the policy as an orientation coefficient and synthesizing the demands and needs of society.

♦ Proposal: bypassing beyond benchmarking

It is proposed to bypass benchmarking as a means to assist the convergence or integration among the member states based on evaluation of past results. Attention instead, must be focused directly on the European Union of social policy within the defined territory with precise policy objectives and priorities to be determined within an efficient time-frame (binding yet flexible) of standards and procedures to be respected with conditions for the co-financing and the active participation of the citizenry. In particular, the European lever could be used to affront new, emerging needs and to build a more homogeneous European situation with respect to the actual one that characterizes the diverse policies of the member states – some who favour the use of resources to strengthen the system of services and others who favour, instead of the transfer of funds directed from the state to its citizens for their maintenance.

♦ Proposal: the matrix of the subsidiarity

Defining a true and proper matrix for the subsidiarity, either vertical (among institutions) or horizontal (among institutions and society), as a common instrument to set the essential levels and the standards for the type of tasks and competencies assigned to public and private policy makers.

♦ Proposal: strategic democratic planning

It is proposed to adopt an instrument for the programming and planning of a strategic plan as a means to:

  1. evaluate and project social policies and the relative end results for the medium and long term;
  2. promote the definition of a EUROPEAN INDEX - important for its functionality - above all for the medium term, as a coefficient of orientation for the member states involved in the re-structuring of their welfare systems, the individualization of fiscal compatibilities to support social spending and the organization of new financial bases for the same. Specifically this European Index should define the different levels of spending compatible with macro economic variables that are fundamental for the foundation upon which stable growth is based. Regarding this, the EU must be obliged to furnish essential indicators or coefficients, that consent the autonomous evaluation of growth participants for the initiatives in proportion to respective appropriate systems for the improvement of the quality of society.
  3. define the terms for quality in public spending, an indispensable coefficient, first to unite competition and cohesion and second to measure the efficiency level of social policies more precisely and usefully for what can emerge from the analysis of quantitative fluctuations of spending, All this with reference to the methods of financing, organizational assets, structures or kinds of services; with respect to the specific prerequisites of access to the services;
  4. define a model for a flexible and modern social governance that takes into account the multiplicity of levels and their partners and evaluates them their outcomes with respect to their order of satisfying social demand;
  5. implement an innovative action plan policy, deeply rooted in the relationships among the institutions, and among these, society, in order to identify the closest public theme for the citizens and their needs; thus evaluating, the success order of the results achieved;
  6. promote a vast operation of reconstruction and planning of de-bureaucratization for the social welfare state targeting to lower the costs of intermediation, to best satisfy the demand of the new social needs - more decentralized and articulated. One to open a system of public services to new kinds of partnerships and two to define the terms of profitability of these services and the organization of the economics associated with the entire social sector while promoting the identification of types of alternative/integrative saving to use to support new public services. With reference to this last aspect, the search for a clear balance point becomes essential. On one side, to confirm the universal characteristics of these public services and the public financing as a source of public funding to assure citizens basic services that are the same for all; while on the other hand, favouring the intervention of the private sector above all to support collateral services that compliment the welfare society that should be principally paid for by society; for more efficient organizations both for new services and for complimentary and additional services and public services (for example in the health and pension sector). It becomes essential here to promote a mediating action plan with the financial markets of the various member states, with the objective to satisfy the needs expressed at various levels and from the various social components and to assure services at lower cost, with respect to those traditionally sustained by the public agency.

5. 3 - Social dialogue – industrial relations – economic democracy

5. 3. 1 Social dialogue


The history of the European Social Model is at the same time a story of the advancement of the social and economic democratic process. We can add that a real system of welfare is not even hypothetical without authentic types of democratic industrial, economic and social policy; the type of democratic participation plan tightly linked to each other and centred on the assumption of true responsibilities from the part of the workers, citizens and many other organizations of society.

The democratic substance of the European Social Model does not mean to lose the competitive nature of a system; on the contrary, this constitutes an added reinforcing element. Initiating the participation of the citizenry and its workers in the initiatives of economic and social development, both at the general system level and the industrial level with, as an end-result to share the decision process in the making of the most important decisions has strong, positive effects on economic performance and helps to build profitable relationships in the long run.

Social dialogue is the essential instrument for moving in this direction, to reinforce the convergency action within the European Social Model, as a sign of progress for the citizenry, the workers and the industries, to best manage the passage from a hierarchical system to a more open and participated system. With this result in mind, the system must be reorganized, made stronger, re-qualified and made fitting to respond to the new needs of growth and second-guessing its own evolution that privileges the right and proper moments for co-decision making regarding the relative choices. The following plans of action are proposed:

♦ Proposal: operate to extend the area of participation

Social dialogue must move to promote and extend the area for participation in the choices, in particular, to promote a convergence between the different types of participation and their rules: the level of institutional participation (established by law), the level of corporate participation and the level of contractual and cooperative participation - all freely organized by the social partners (established on the basis of agreements and contracts).

♦ Proposal: operate for policy, economic, social and environmental stability

Social dialogue must adopt, as a basic reference point, the analysis of the measures that consent to evaluate economic implications (economic growth), social implications (employment, stabile earnings for labour, social inclusion) of environmental implications (respect for a balanced equilibrium) that characterize the new situations. It must include them in the accentuated pressures of high mobility of employment and investments. From this analysis, should emerge the corrective measures that will consent to optimize policy, economic, social and environmental stability.

♦ Proposal: construct a bridge between social dialogue and civil dialogue

Social dialogue must intervene upon the quality of social relations, reinforcing the network of relationships with the civil dialogue and the initiatives carried forth in the economic and social sectors by voluntary organizations and organizations in the Third service sector. With this final result in mind, a bridge must be built between social dialogue and civil dialogue, both at the European and national level, and at the local decentralized level.

♦ Proposal: organize a permanent roundtable for the coordination of social policies:

The initiative must be successful and managed autonomously by organized participants of civil society, precisely, as an answer from the civil society towards the insufficient coordination action plans of the nations. This proposal takes into account an opinion quite shared: that the actual political conditions of the European Union, a true push towards a social integration plan, can emerge only through the voluntary initiatives of the civil society.

Proposal: define a new European Social Contract

The initiative adopts the dynamics of new social needs as a reference point, aims to re-establish the selection of the interventions and to link selective choices to the level of revenues and to the most critical situations, for an effective control of the sector most at risk and most in need in the community.

Proposal: monitoring the networks of the civil society

Positioned within social dialogue, must be a wide-ranged successful monitoring action plan that aims to create social awareness of the European initiatives by the many organized participants in the civil society, above all, spontaneous networks - communities for civic commitment and associations, for example professional associations – whose initiatives yield, in each case, end results directly or indirectly on the social integration plan. This monitoring process must be accompanied by successive phases of evaluation of the impact that similar initiatives have had specifically on social development and inclusion. Actually, European networks are operating in autonomously and voluntarily are creating a favourable political and cultural climate useful to reinforce the social integration plan, an indispensable social condition for the success or failure of the later. It deals with an important patrimony of experiences, also often very futuristic and advanced, that range from training to the organization of services, from spreading consciousness to the adaption of terminology and common social behaviour roles; a patrimony that should be, precisely, monitored at the right moments, evaluated and adopted for use in the social integration plan social by recognized policy makers within the social dialogue.

5.3.2 Industrial relations


In the general framework, in which the state must maintain its regulatory function, and at the same time, dedicate itself to sustaining the worth of autonomous collective bargaining, it is necessary to affront changes in industrial relations along with all that is new: new frontiers; economic and territorial changes; from professional mobility to precarious labour and social conditions; from the insecurity of earnings to the inequalities of growth; from the uncertainties of the future to the deterioration of the social system.

These social components, the labour unions and enterprise associations are inevitably called upon to control each other with results and risks of a precarious nature spreading throughout society and the social and environmental unsustainability of development. A task of sincere clarification must bring to light that there is an objective interest on both sides to recuperate, within the terms of the negotiation, the typologies of precarious labour situations, to create a real, qualified, capital stock – a human factor that is decisive in knowledge economics – to function together on economic-productive territory, on social and environmental territory, for the verification of the worth of external projection of the solutions that are identified and agreed upon. In synthesis, until industrial relations adopts the whole complex of that which is defined as a social market economy as a reference point, an action plan of support must be promoted.

♦ Proposal: strengthen and extend European bargaining

Strengthen the role of the social partners and labour unions extending the area of negotiation to the European level, from the minimum European wage to the management of policies and services to create a commitment of the labour unions to build minimum, common elements for a social welfare states at the European level. Taking all of this into account, with the actual system of extremely limited competencies in policy planning attributed to the European Commission, the most efficient contribution in this situation can come about at negotiating and bargaining sessions among the social partners, more than through the intervention of legislation, beginning with the European directives.

Specifically, in order to render their intervention more efficient the unions will be asked to accept this responsibility also through a reform in their internal decision system and to adopt a different allocation of their system of competencies between the national and European levels, attributing the correct responsibilities to the union representation in order to conduct effective negotiations at the national and European level.

Proposal: enlarge the area of control of the transnational-negotiations

Entrust the definition of regulatory models for social rights to the Transnational Negotiation plan. Bypassing, in this way, the insufficiencies of the system and the initiatives of concentrated powers, supporting the practice of self-regulation of conflicts that are spontaneously spreading with planning “from the bottom up” where many signals are noted already in important productive sectors (insurance, transport and finance).

5.3.3 Economic democracy


In all of Europe, the enterprises that have strengthened their procedures of participation for employees internally, have proved that they know how to react best to the challenge of globalization. This participation has shown to be a passage as useful as it is necessary. The reinforcing of the European Social Model must be lived as an occasion to reinforce and extend the area of democratic participation also in the economic and enterprise system; to transfer or change the system of social guarantees as much as possible, completely and thoroughly, as agreed upon by the social partner. It is the nucleus of an industrial democracy, the centre point of industrial democracy - in a system of rights valid for all citizens.

♦ Proposal: European working groups

Promoting the creation of European groups of experts with transnational traits to identify concrete solutions for democratic, economic and industrial progress within the limits of the member states of the EU, concentrating on the procedures for information, consultations, harmonisation for convergence of laws and government principles in government and government policy making (concertation), negotiation and codecision making.

► Open question: Which relationship between economic democracy and democratic policy? The question of economic democracy is assigned within a quadrant of a more general crisis of democracy that is registered in the entire occidental area due to an imbalanced situation that is generated in the system of power, of an imbalance that is immeasurable only in terms of earnings and that is to be corrected, obviously.

Proposal: Participation in the European Union’s choices on economic-production

Within the framework of a hopeful beginning for a common European development policy and, in particular, of a European industrial policy plan that identifies the conditions to promote the participation of key policy makers of development for these strategic choices and finding an answer to the question: Who should decide the investments for industrialized European plans? More broadly: Which partnerships? Which co-decisions should be promoted in the government of the European economy? The answers will allow Europe to acquire additional elements of credibility on the international scene and, thus, to propose itself as a prime example for an orientation guideline at this level.

Proposal: Participation in big industrial companies

The creation of effective conditions of equality between capital and labour is intended as a way to respond to the demands of an ethical nature (peremptory, moral for the dignity of human labour), political (strengthening of democracy), economic-productivity (assuming collective responsibility with respect to reproductive investments). Who must decide the investments within the huge industrial conglomerates? On the basis of these reference points, in Europe, there must be an in-depth confrontation on the basic idea of development as a first step in order to then move on toward further initiatives of in depth study and verification of the terms of the same.

♦ Proposal: European Work Councils

Strengthen and extend the European experience of nearly 700 European Work Councils, broadening the area of their rights to consent the diffusion of policies for co-decision making that, at this time, is reduced to a minimum because it is limited to the consultation phase.

♦ Proposal: Regulation for the European Company – “Societas Europea”

Strengthen and extend, in a participative direction, the statute and the functions of a European Company – “Societas Europea”, with a common, shared regulation that permits recognition of organizations like labour unions and citizens. In Europe should be created an open situation for an affirmative action plan of equality of rights between capital and labour. A similar strengthening, among other things, permits better controls of the processes of co-decision making within the enterprise and industry in those member states where it is already practiced. In other words, in those member states that have adopted different systems, it could convince them to strengthen participative negotiations in any case.

Proposal : modify the role of shareholders in favour of other active participants

Identify a strategy and establish rules for the modification of the actual, absolutely sovereign system of shareholding in capitalistic society; promote a progressive transfer of this shareholder sovereignty to other active participants that perform a decisive role for the life and the growth of a public, shareheld company (to salaried workers, local communities, civilian society, etc.) that is at least in some sectors, like those that are most exposed with regard to social services. For example, in the case of pension management public, shareheld companies that actually manage the savings of workers exclusively based on financial criteria. In these cases, policy makers must design new rules - must control the deferred earnings of the workers (considering them a public wealth, like money) and thus, must extend the area of action and control of the stakeholders to the unions and the consumers.

► Open question: With reference to a theoretical approach to the sustainability, to verify, to which degree the corporate systems (those which produce the wealth) but also a vehicle of inequality and social risks, can be corrected through a sharing of democratic-participative types of experiences addressing their negative results.


6 - The E.S.M. for the reinforcement and qualification plan of the european union


The Lisbon Strategy had reconciled, that in terms of an equilibrium or balance, economic development goes with social sustainability and the protection of the environment. Lisbon confirmed that without the creation of a true European Social Model, Europe will not make progress. Without a social Europe there are no guarantees for stable economic prosperity, like without an economically strong Europe, it is not possible to organize a social, welfare state of Europe.

The main consequences of this strategic formulation are the following: the first is that the approach to strengthening the European Social Model must give elements of assurances with respect to economic growth; the second is that the economic system - with its accentuated discontinuities that characterize it due to the globalization processes - must adopt, as its own, the elements of precariousness and instability that inspire them within society and give the proper answers on this matter. With reference to the choices of policies, it means correcting a prevailing orientation that aims to first proceed for the completion of the economic union to then proceed on to a harmonizing social plan: the two processes are, instead, strictly interrelated to each other. Nevertheless, in the actual state, in the process of integration continues to be registered, in particular, a huge asymmetry between economic integration (very  advanced) and the social integration plan (very backward); an asymmetry that moreover is very risky for maintaining the complex processes of integration. In order to recuperate a balanced situation, from the social aspect, a solution must be found for the following open questions:

Only acting in this triple direction, the creation of a unified European welfare system can become realistic and not, as some affirm, a useless intellectual and political yearning. In each case, before affronting a similar commitment, there must be a clear policy choice that accompanies the negative integration that has prevailed until now (with the abolishment of many bonds and barriers) with a much more positive, incisive integration (based on a European regulations for economic, social and environmental policies). The strategic objective of this process of integration must be the creation of a social common European space, like an end-product of training in the member states, of secure social areas that are progressively always more homogeneous and, thus, their successive linkage.

The elaboration of a common, social, European platform is understood as being analogous to when the EMU with the money, had a strategic coefficient to respond to external global pressures. The elaboration of the same, a European platform, does not exclude that the EU will continue to help the member States in the conservation, modernization and diversification of their national models.

6.1 – The convergence of national social systems


Within the actual planning of the European Union, the strengthening of the European Social Model is entrusted most to initiatives of convergence of the member states and to their willingness or capacity to move in this direction. Among the sustaining initiatives to this process of convergence, the following proposals must be underlined.

Proposal: find a common European base that shares the same definitions for social problems

At the European level, a vast comparison and a clear, deep definition of significant terminologies, words and concepts that are usually and commonly referred to in the European Social Model must be promoted. Because, even though the same terminologies are used, too often, political decision makers, administrators and the social partners make reference with their own, diverse national experiences in a total of 27 states. Practically, this means that they use the same words that have significantly different meanings, for example, unemployment, poverty, flexibility, sustainability and economic democracy.

The reinforcement of the European Social Model is in need of clear terminology and concepts that are shared because the lack of clarity and ambiguity in the actual terminology used are a strong negative coefficient that affects the convergence processes, blocking and slowing them down. A common, shared glossary serves, at least, to promote valid comparative analysis. But it serves, even more, to understand the nature and the reason for the initiatives that are to be promoted or implemented. For example, in the management of economic, social and environmental policy: Which subjects have a title or responsibilities in the various systems? In economic democracy? What about co-decision making, informational exchanges, consultations, and conditioning and among which subjects? Still in Great Britain, traditional terminologies like “factory representative” and ”negotiation” used commonly in many European states, do not have any sense, because they are far from any real, practical example in that country.

Proposal: citizens’ rights

Promote research for a clear answer to the following open questions: Which rights for which citizens of the EU? In the fundamental Charter of Rights the project for a European Social Model is well described: (Chapter IV: “Solidarity is the Basis of the European Social Model”). But how to apply, realistically, the right to equality and solidarity foreseen in the two chapters dedicated to the subject in the Charter? Who has the right to make use of the benefits of a social Europe? The point of reference is, generally, the workers; but what about the immigrants? above all the clandestine workers? Must a social Europe address only its workers or all its citizens? How to make it so that the citizens can participate in the construction of a social Europe – on the basis of which rights? Identifying and defining a ”common base” of practical, fundamental and recognizable social rights is necessary in Europe on behalf of all its workers and of all its citizens in the widest sense of the word?

Proposal: social needs

Assuming that social policies are the fruits of a collection of information based on the needs of the population and for their diversity and dynamics, these needs are the origins of a diversity in an approach to planned social policies in the various member states. It is proposed to promote an initiative that would consent to identify a common denominator of social needs that in all Europe must be satisfied no matter what. This would consent to have a common reference point upon which to conduct evaluations both for the worthiness of this common base, and for the different articulations and needs that the needs express in the different countries.

Working on the articulation of social needs takes on a precise significance if it is reset within a context of strategic policy planning to be elaborated at the European level in agreement with the single member states as an indispensable instrument used to collect, interpret and affront systematically the needs and the critical states of the different systems. And also, a similar instrument, which works on the relationship between the economic and social transformations, results in creating a fundamental instrument for later organizing the interventions in both the public and private budgets.

6.2 Harmony between economic development and social promotion


From a reconcilable perspective between economic, social and environmental development the European Social Model, on one side, assumes the problems of growth as fundamental, while on the other side confirms it as a resource that should be valued, not a cost to be born, for the well-functioning of the same economic system.

Proposal: production and distribution of wealth

An initiative for the analysis and verification aimed at affronting as one, the questions of production and the redistribution of wealth that are actually considered two separate distinct factors, is proposed. The redistribution is to be considered, instead, as a function of growth, not a factor post-growth. A different perspective of the processes of growth and its distribution is necessary, instead. With this aim in mind, with an initiative that invests in both the economic culture and a policy culture, the intrinsic connections that unite these complementary aspects of development must be evaluated.

♦ Proposal: economic, social and environmental regulation

The European Union must be directly involved with an initiative that stretches way beyond the relative indicators for the functionality of the European common market, within the definition of proposals that concern the complexity for the regulation of economic, social and environmental systems. Regarding this, the EU must indicate the best terms to be adapted by the institutional organizations – standards, legal codes and systems, regulations for economic and social life and the quality of regulation - to answer the demands for balanced development. And, in the end, to provide the states and their social partners effective guidelines to deal more cohesively as a unit, to affront the challenges of global competition as a unit.

► Open question: regarding both the kind of elaboration of these indications and the level of compulsory participation that they involve.

6.3 European social governance: institutions


How to govern an ESM? Without a system of communal government, all the social and economic models are destined to be reabsorbed by the processes of globalization. Likewise, in the absence of a European government, each state is forced to resort to the defence of is own situation.

Proposal: Eurozone

It is proposed to extend the competencies of the EUROZONE GROUP, assigning it political competencies - in a broad sense – those which in each case must include also social policy planning. This proposal is articulated in the following three precise points:

  1. more important formalization of a EuroGroup;
  2. stronger budget coordination;
  3. more harmonized fiscal and taxation planning. The proposal is justified by the fact that the Eurozone functions well. It is represented/proven by its major success since 1992 and for this reason, a wider vision of the process of integration can have great impact to attract those member states that, at this moment, are not participating in this experience. It is certain that the European social government should be built on a reality of precise progress; from which can be born also a true political government.

Proposal: Competencies in social matters for the European Commission

Precise competencies must be attributed to the European Commission with regard to social matters. Specifically:

  1. A series of minimum competencies in social policy planning to overcome the limits and the
  2. shortcomings with respect to the actual bilateral agreements of the member states that still,
  3. today, impede the creation of a common European social policy. These contribute to the spread of negative effects on the functionality of the EU, mobility and qualification of the work force, employment and social involvement. In parallel with this, within the national spectrum for social planning, a true and proper European dimension on the basis of a clear, shared definition of assignments and functions must be built.
  4. The competencies regarding new social questions, in order to establish common referral points and policies that do not have any connection to the traditional experiences of the European states, like mass immigration, new labour typologies, professional training for research and learning for life;
  5. Competencies with the aim to manage the end results directly, relative to a restricted number of fundamental social services, for example, health care. These competencies should be identified and defined on the basis of a wide negotiation between governments and the social partners that aim to guarantee a common base of control and social protection to all citizens;
  6. The dimension of a social Europe, must be supported by appropriate financial resources on the basis of the diverse articulation and resource distribution between the national and the Community levels.

Proposal: assigning new tasks to the European Central Bank

It is proposed to attribute to the European Central Bank (ECB), in addition to monetary and budgetary controls, control of the growth of the economy and employment progress, based on the example of the US Federal Reserve. In this context, we call upon the re-evaluation of the diffuse opinion according to which the monetary system, the Euro, must be understood as an instrument, an intermediate passage toward the construction of a true economic government. The management of the initiative of the ECB must respond to precise, coordinated criteria of transparency and democracy.

6.4 Social european governance: the policies

Proposal: The reform of the Growth and Stability Pact

The reform has as it aim to overcome the actual, excessive rigidity of the Pact and to create an instrument able to appreciate and affront the questions bound to the social dimensions of development more efficiently. The Pact must permit to go beyond the actual limits in case of structural deficiencies caused by social demands (example: pensions) and/or from the necessity of public investment in public infrastructural works of strategic relevance and of high occupational impact. In other words, the management of the Pact - in a way to allow an adequate coordination of the general macroeconomic European framework to recuperate the inequalities tied to the centralization management of the monetary policy and the decentralization of other economic variables, like fiscal policy and wages – must be imposed.

Proposal: European budget

In the case that, based on a favourable polical choice for managing to assign the task to act on matters of economic and social policy, it is the budget which is the instrument that enables it to be able to operate and sets the limits within which it can operate in the European government and attribute the competency to the European government. This declared, it is proposed to:

  1. remove the European budget from its actual conditions of pure funding - technical and administrative - without an active role in the European economy to include it in the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines that the Commission presents every year and that until now have been considered only by national budgets;
  2. to include the European budget in the Growth and Stability Pact (GSP), in a way that the European financial questions are discussed together with those of the national finances and to apply the same advantages and the same liberties as the national budgets to the European budget;
  3. promote to abolish the rigid bonds of balancing that are imposed on the EU budget, but consent a functionality bound to the “approximation of balance”; this to appeal through public indebtedness or borrowing to:
    1. face negative short-term fluctuations,
    2. sustain public investment policies,
    3. finance shared European social policies,
    4. strengthening of funds for the campaign against unemployment and support initiatives of flexsecurity (EGAF – European Globalization Adjustment Fund),
    5. for the promotion of an efficient campaign against poverty,
    6. to support initiatives for a guaranteed minimum wage and a minimum starting wage. (Alternatively, to the public indebtedness or borrowing it is proposed the introduction of a European tax targeted to increase the actual proceeds deriving from VAT and the contributing member states.)

Proposal: European legislation plan

It is proposed to promote a European legislation plan, with the characteristics of a directive – a framework of directives with the following aims:

    1. to activate European initiatives for a harmonized fiscal policy. This is absolutely necessary for the objective of a European Social Model that functions autonomously as a synthesis of national experiences. This financial harmonized fiscal policy plan is decisive to affront the problems of social costs, both through general taxation and through the workers’ contributions. In order to achieve this objective, it is also necessary to abolish the veto power maintained by the national governments with whom there will never be fiscal taxation adequate to sustain the social policies;
    2. to define some basic points of reference binding in all member states. This legislation is aimed at reinforcing the processes of social harmonization regarding the subject of minimum standards for social protection;
    3. to support the creation of a guaranteed minimum European wage aimed at and defined upon the basis of negotiation among the governments and social partners, supported by precise budgetary allocations of the European budget and integrated by special fiscal subsidies for the countries who recently joined the EU and basically have weaker economies;
    4. to sustain the introduction of a minimum guaranteed income – RMI at the European level, based on a European plan of social adaptation, including the social integration of immigrants, and on the  national levels, articulated in personalized planning and agreed upon between national governments.

Proposal: European industrial policy

It is proposed to launch a program for a European industrial policy, a policy that actually is at the embryonic state but that has always registered success when it has been activated. The objective of this plan is to anticipate the restructuring procedures and to create the best conditions in order that these processes are socially manageable.

Proposal: Corporate Social Responsibility

It is proposed to promote an enterprisal ethic - for finance and investment – that is socially responsible. It is entitled “TheCorporate Social Responsibility”– bypassing the voluntary aspects, but imposing real policies in the sector. An initial referral point is that a socially responsible enterprise is a socially open enterprise, attentive to the social consequences of its operation, also able to orientate itself in the direction of the collective public interest. A similar enterprice is bound to sustain additional costs which, in the long run, also have added advantages.

To give foundation to these policies in this sector, it is necessary to identify and define a European model – a system of shared ethical values for enterprises. This model must be:

    1. founded on a definition of ethical standards elaborated on basic criteria – one, united, precise, generally shared and obtainable according to the indications and the dispositions on the matter contained in the official documents of the UN, ILO, OECD and EU;
    2. on the elaboration of a reference document that contains European Guidelines for the evaluation of the internal voluntary standards of enterprise and business planning;
    3. on the definition of a common method of application of principles:
    4. on the enforceability of the ethical standards both to the enterprise system and upon the government’s - regional, and local, and the public administration.

Proposal: Single market of services

It is proposed to promote a single market for services according to the experience gained in the organization of a single market for finance and goods. For this, first of all, to avoid that a similar policy creates a new form of social injustice and discrimination; it is necessary here, to establish two precise conditions:

The first condition concerns a clear distinction between the various types of services. There are services, for example water, gas, transportation, etc. that are, on one side, bound to public interest but that, on the other hand, are managed by real and true economical industrial interests. These enterprises follow precise economic, productive and profit oriented objectives and for this reason, they ask citizens to pay a fee for the supply of their services, a level of payment that if measured, in proportion, is clearly superior to the level of the contribution paid by the citizen for services of a different nature, for example, health care. For this type of service enterprise, the EU, the states, the regions and the local authorities should accept and promote the abolishment of every type of protectionism and barriers still existing, but (for the public interest bound to these types of services), set clear limits for their objectives of profitability and at the same time assure the participation of citizens in their organization and management.

The second condition to be respected is bound to the criteria that the phenomenon of social dumping must be avoided in every case. For this a strategic importance and a primary role must be given to social dialogue and free negotiation of unions and the social partners. The organization of a single market of services must be entrusted, in the first place, to their responsibilities.

Proposal: eliminating social barriers.

It is proposed to promote a complex European operation aimed at abolishing the many social barriers that actually exist in Europe between one state and another. These prohibit the citizens of Europe to take advantage of the same conditions of social protection when they decide to move from one member state to another. Identifying and defining a common, workable framework of rights and protection is necessary.

♦ Proposal: immigration flows

Assume, in practice and in the policies of Europe, a clear and inequivocal approach to regard immigration favourably, that each case is to be managed with precise forms of control for the essential contribution that these people are able to give in all of Europe to the productive system and to its determinant, specific social services.

Proposal: the European Social Model in the states who recently joined the EU

It is proposed to set aside a specific fund to sustain the diffusion and to strengthen the system of procedures of the European Social Model in the countries who recently became members. The democratic policy revolution of the Eastern European countries must be accompanied by a strengthening-modernization of their active social systems.



Theories and methods of reference

A – theoretical approach

Theory of a pluralist democracy: means bypassing the classical theory of democracy based on the direct relationship between the state and the citizen. It recognizes the value of a third partner, the civic society, which guarantees and promotes autonomy with reference to the positive role of intermediate groups organized by them. Democratic experience, in the widest meaning of the term, shows that on this recognition, society develops a democracy based on the balancing of powers between the institutions and their social partners. Furthermore, that democracy is not limited to a system of procedures that guarantees the participation of its citizens in the life of its institutions, but on a foundation of rights and liberties that these guarantee, recognize and assume as a reference, also to the laws freely agreed upon in society when those laws are aimed at projects for the progress and promotion of man.

► Open question: conduct an evaluation of the effects that global pressures have put on the identity, its role and its ability to represent and protect interests, both those of the state and those of intermediary groups. With regard to this, the continuous demands that are put upon the crises of the state and of the social welfare state like political strengths and social traditions, confirm the wide spread perception of deep transformations that are in motion within the specific area and functionality of these participants - above all, for the intermediary groups, of the need (likewise wide spread) to understand the phenomena that brings to new ideas in these areas.

► Open question: how to reconcile the commitment to creating a common model of social promotion, like the European Social Model, with continuous training of new and original kinds of collective organizational bodies?

Social sustainability theory: with this philosophical and political term, we define “sustainable” those societies that propose as a strategic objectives to work for the “long term”, as an indicator of the continuity of the institutions and their development without breaks or excessive discontinuities. Consequently, these civil societies organize structures and actions that are aimed at limiting the formation of social inequalities and aim to strengthen the processes of inclusion. For this reason, the concept of “sustainability” refers to a question in a practical sequence, bound to policy demands and economics of growth, not to questions of a moral nature.

► Open question: searching for a balanced equilibrium in respect to “social sustainability”. The reality internationally in the last ten years is, that the systems that have most opened up to new social liberalism and to global capitalism have made progress and seen major results in terms of economic growth but have accumulated elements of breakdown in their respective societies of reference, with a break up of society and unequal economic and social growth.

On the other hand, the systems that have controlled and limited the effects of global capitalism and new social liberalism have registered very reduced results in terms of development but have a guaranteed, a more socially and cohesive organization and a higher level of “sustainability” according to their respective situations. Related to these processes, the search for a new, balanced, equilibrium points for the relationships between: (1) the state and the market; (2) the public and private sector; (3) enterprise, workers and social partners, is open.

The theory of a central position of social precariousness: affirming that transformations rooted in the work world are bound to the process of flexibility, mobility and qualification but produce and increase their strongest negative effects in terms of a spreading social danger which always assumes more the aspect of a central role for maintaining the system. The central position of this phenomena directly draws upon a foundation for the conditions of social peace and political stability. This can be challenged and corrected only if the principal policy makers for development are able to recognize its strategic significance and to impose new strategies for social justice based on new labour policies, new social policies and new services.

► Open question: reflecting upon a central role for labour in contemporary modern society is open with respect to other factors which are assuming always a more central role in the lives of people, like identity reference points and ethical and cultural values - consumerism, individualism, etc. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons for the reinforcement of the European Social Model, one must, above all, operate on cultural and ethical levels to re-confirm the solidarity guidelines for an interpretation of the dignity of man and his connection to society, not based exclusively on economic criteria (earnings). Poverty, in short, should not be considered a shame.

Theory of social quality: defining the area for “social action” refers to four conditioning factors and four guideline factors.

The four conditioning factors are identified as:

  1. social-economic security;
  2. social cohesion;c) social inclusion;
  3. social activation.

The four guidelines are identified as:

  1. social justice (equality);
  2. solidarity;
  3. democratic citizenship; d) human dignity. The theory of social quality is assumed as basic for the passage from the traditional social welfare state to that which is defined as a sustainable welfare state. This poses a central question for the reconstruction of the networks between the individual and society, strengthening a spirit of solidarity as opposed to an individualistic one. This is based on the convincing aspect of the answers most adequate and valid with respect to the demands of the new welfare state and cannot come from the individuals (individual answers) but from organized bodies (collective answers), that are best able to synthesize and represent the new expectations to the institutions. These theories require an elaboration plan of precise standards able to measure the processes of social quality.

Theory of relative egalitarianism: defining “a criteria of equality” in development with reference not to an egalitarian ideology applied across the board in all situations, but to a basic principle of equality that aims to assume as central and, at the same time, both the problems of growth and the problems of reducing equality in terms of earnings, culture and opportunity adopting a continuum within a dynamic vision for social policies to the new needs emerging in society.

In realistic terms, assuming that as an objective factor that in a perspective for the short and medium term global development will continue to be the bearer of increasing inequality in growing proportions. It is an inequality that aims to correct, above all, the weakest and exposed parts of society with concentrated strategies of protection. For this purpose, a diverse and more adequate definition of the collective interest, the adoption of a system of analysis that really identifies and evaluates the creation of new social needs is proposed. Also, the definition of new guarantees of citizenship for a wide spread system of controls, a different interpretation of the labour policies concentrating on the rewarding of merit and the acceptance of responsibility on the part of workers in the organization of social policies that are able to help citizens welcome new opportunities of modern growth is proposed. Among the essential aspects of this theoretical approach to development as a radical reform of the social welfare state, is its de-bureaucratization and the creation of a new relationship between the state and civic society. These are among some of the essential aspects of this theoretical approach to development.

Theory for the distribution of revenue: affirming that the two procedures –

  1. growth and production of wealth and;
  2. its distribution - are not distinct processes but closely interrelated to each other. They are two complimentary aspects of development. In particular, distribution is to be considered an essential function of growth. The economic and polical cultures are solicited to consider an error within the predominantly theoretical approach that, instead, regards the two factors as distinct. In particular, considered growth as primary, then its distribution follows -interpreted as a process (post-growth).

► Open question: effects of a weakening of the European Social Model.

With the aim to create competitive wealth and development, in Europe the weakening of the social model, instituted as a political and economic objective, has contributed to the decrease in the European systems’ productivity. In fact, this has induced enterprises to favour growth models sustained by reduced labour costs and employment levels instead of turning to capital investment and innovation. The weakening of the  European Social Model came about as an incorrect and misleading response that has contributed to worsen the problems of development that are common in Europe.

► Open question: effects of fiscal policies.

With the aim to have a more equal distribution of earnings, and thus reduce inequality and poverty, appealing only to a fiscal valve has revealed itself as an inadequate and insufficient strategy with respect to other strategies. For example, those that are concentrated upon the acknowledgement of the roles of the social partners and their involvement in negotiations for economic and social policy planning.

B – Methodological approach

The “contrasting” method: privileges the analysis and evaluation of the elements of diversity between the European situation and the situations of the other important geopolitical areas of the world, beginning with that of North America. It permits a precise identification and definition of the autonomous and original characteristics of the European Social Model with respect to those of other social models.

Systems analysis: applying systems analysis to the European Social Model as the most appropriate method for understanding the characteristics of the constituent elements, their interdependence on the system, the relationships that exist among these elements and the dynamics of their functionality. The constituent elements are identifiable in: political-institutional factors; economic factors; social factors; ethical-cultural factors.

As a complex system, the European Social Model is not confined to a limited area of social protection, of rights, structures and measures targeted to this purpose, but includes the problems connected to the more farranging relationships between economic, labour and social development from policies to the harmonious convergence of laws and governmental principals and policies regarding development, to economic democracy, representation and participation; from worker’s rights to industrial relations and to the negotiation of wages.

 type of political approach: For a correct approach to understand the dynamics of the European Social Model and its changing possibilities and given the intrinsic nature of the system, a type of analysis that assumes, as priority, the evaluation of orientations, relations, initiatives of policy planners (also called experts) in the sector is proposed. With this it is proposed:

  1. to abandon the type of technical financial analysis on the specific factors and services, the analysis of wider areas of reference (“social models”/ the “social families” etc), on the affiliation and the exchanges between the various models based on the best practices;
  2. to pass from evaluating technical-practical aspects of existing relationships to the evaluation of the political aspects, privileging and identifying the system of existing relationships between the political and social powers that are the protagonists of the foundation of the European Social Model with the aim to strengthen and qualify it.

Comparability of national experiences: regarding the experiences of the various nations in the matters of social welfare state and the relationship of the state-society-market in Europe are founded upon many very different paradigms. Contrarily to some opinions, it is held that in any case, that there are shared elements sufficient to render comparable and compatible, and consequently, to pursue a higher level of harmony among the various systems. On the basis of the proof of this assumption, that the European Social Model is not proven to be a symbolic fact, or inexistent, like some theses claim, but instead is a real fact. The way to reach comparability of national experiences is thought to be the most appropriate for its efficiency, precisely due to its dedication to strengthening the European Social Model.

8.1. Prekäre Lebensbedingungen, unsichere Arbeitsverhältnisse – Expansion sozialer Ungleichheiten. Auf dem Weg von der Peripherie zum Zentrum?

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

 Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Marco Ricceri: Reforming the European Social Model: Platform Proposal - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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