Call us

Europe’s power is built upon its social contract

Laura Rayner , Tommaso Grossi

Date: 28/11/2022

Following decades of neoliberal policies and austerity measures, welfare states have struggled to handle emerging new social risks, which have further deteriorated social cohesion, working conditions, and inequalities.

Indeed, the welfare state is the pragmatic implementation of the social contract, supporting employees whose income is interrupted due to illness, unemployment, or retirement, offering public services like healthcare and education, and keeping society and the economy afloat during economic downturns. As Europe's welfare states scramble to react to additional disruptive and external shocks, the problem has become more pressing.

In this era of permacrisis, the EU must be forced to acknowledge the enormous significance of its social contract. Modernising the European social model has the potential to lessen the appeal of populist parties by reducing socioeconomic inequality and facilitating the twin transition.

But the current challenges may prove too difficult for the EU to overcome without revitalisation and reinforcement. If going forward and reaching a resolution in the Union is tough now, future challenges might be unsolvable. Ultimately, Europe must first repair its deteriorating social contract if it hopes to be a strong and credible leader in this unsteady world.

This sixth Jubilee Think Piece raises provocative questions on the social contract as the EPC gears up to commemorate its 25th anniversary. It also opens the way for the Jubilee Conference, which will take place in Brussels on Thursday, 1 December.

Read the full paper here.

The latest from the EPC, right in your inbox
Sign up for our email newsletter
14-16 rue du Trône, 1000 Brussels, Belgium | Tel.: +32 (0)2 231 03 40
EU Transparency Register No. 
89632641000 47
Privacy PolicyUse of Cookies | Contact us | © 2019, European Policy Centre

edit afsluiten