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‘Social Europe’ in the long 1970s - The story of a defeat

Dates:
  • Mon 04 Dec 2017 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-12-04 10:00 2017-12-04 12:00 Europe/Paris ‘Social Europe’ in the long 1970s - The story of a defeat

‘Social Europe’ is an elusive concept. Although largely forgotten today, it was a vibrant idea and project in the 1970s. Promulgated mostly by West European social-democratic forces, it was basically a European governance reform project. Its fundamental objective was to transform the nature of European cooperation and integration, by using the European Community as a vehicle to realise democratic socialism in Europe. ‘Social Europe’ took shape around the ideas of wealth redistribution, social and economic planning, economic democratisation, improved working and living conditions, regulation and control of economic forces, guarantee of the right to work, upward harmonisation of European social regimes, and access to social protection for all. It also included environmental concerns, democratisation of the European Community’s institutions, and claims to rebalance the international system to favour the development of the rising ‘South’. It made ambitious proposals to empower the Community in the social field and to increase social and economic coordination between its member states. It was, in short, a proposal for a radically different future than the one we actually inhabit today. This work investigates the rise and demise of ‘social Europe’ in the ‘long 1970s’. It highlights the socialist efforts to build a common European project, explores the concrete proposals it contained, traces its evolution and assesses the strategies and alliances envisaged between the different forces of the Left for its realisation. It sheds light on the reasons for the defeat of ‘Social Europe’, which had long-lasting, and arguably dramatic repercussions for the nature of European integration and European societies, for the relations of Western Europe with the rest of the world, for the history of capitalism and its shift to the ‘neoliberal’ paradigm, and for the ‘European Left’ itself.

Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

‘Social Europe’ is an elusive concept. Although largely forgotten today, it was a vibrant idea and project in the 1970s. Promulgated mostly by West European social-democratic forces, it was basically a European governance reform project. Its fundamental objective was to transform the nature of European cooperation and integration, by using the European Community as a vehicle to realise democratic socialism in Europe. ‘Social Europe’ took shape around the ideas of wealth redistribution, social and economic planning, economic democratisation, improved working and living conditions, regulation and control of economic forces, guarantee of the right to work, upward harmonisation of European social regimes, and access to social protection for all. It also included environmental concerns, democratisation of the European Community’s institutions, and claims to rebalance the international system to favour the development of the rising ‘South’. It made ambitious proposals to empower the Community in the social field and to increase social and economic coordination between its member states. It was, in short, a proposal for a radically different future than the one we actually inhabit today. This work investigates the rise and demise of ‘social Europe’ in the ‘long 1970s’. It highlights the socialist efforts to build a common European project, explores the concrete proposals it contained, traces its evolution and assesses the strategies and alliances envisaged between the different forces of the Left for its realisation. It sheds light on the reasons for the defeat of ‘Social Europe’, which had long-lasting, and arguably dramatic repercussions for the nature of European integration and European societies, for the relations of Western Europe with the rest of the world, for the history of capitalism and its shift to the ‘neoliberal’ paradigm, and for the ‘European Left’ itself.


Location:
Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Supervisor:
Federico Romero (EUI - HEC)

Examiner:
Prof. Eric Bussière (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
Prof. Laura Lee Downs
Prof. Lorenzo Mechi (Università degli Studi di Padova)

Defendant:
Aurélie Andry (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Contact:
Serena Belligoli (EUI - Academic Service) - Send a mail

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