“Social Europe. Irrelevant, catching-up, or dangerous? A reassessment against the background of the just transition” – 14 December 2023


Since the turn of the 21st century, it has become clear that the European Union is falling short of its promise to enhance social cohesion across the continent. On one hand, welfare state modernisation has been at the centre of divisive debates over the redistribution of wealth within states. On the other, imbalances between a wealthy European core and its peripheries have persisted, if not exacerbated. Some see the policies and governance of the EU as part of the problem, others rather as the solution. In her last book (Agenda, 2022), Amandine Crespy examines the key controversies surrounding EU’s social policy-making. Considering each mode of governance used in the field of social policy – ranging from regulation to liberalisation, the European social dialogue, the distribution of funds, or soft coordination – policy instruments and political struggles are scrutinized. Doing so, the book provides an analytical understanding of why certain scholars and political actors argue that “Social Europe” is either irrelevant, catching up, or dangerous. Ultimately, an effective lens is provided that helps understand the potential but also the limitations of the EU’s role in steering a just transition, that is a green transformation of the European economy which would go hand in hand with more social justice on the continent.   


Amandine Crespy, Professor of political science and EU studies at the Cevipol and Institut d’études européennes of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges).