Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 314: The European Social Pillar: A Threat to Welfare and Prosperity?

Nils Karlson () and Felinda Wennerberg
Additional contact information
Nils Karlson: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Felinda Wennerberg: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In November 2017, the European Union proclaimed its fourth pillar, The European Pillar of Social Rights., to promote a “truly pan-European” labour market. A large number of specific social rights are endorsed. This paper investigates the potential short- and long-term consequences of the social pillar on the welfare and prosperity of Europe. Moreover, we discuss its potential effects on the legitimacy of the European Union. Our conclusions indicate that rather than to “support and complement” the social and labour market policies of the Member States, the European Union is likely to replace these policies with the “better” goals of the Union in an effort to fully implement the principles established in the social pillar. The principle of subsidiarity in this case promotes centralisations. There are strong reasons to believe that increased centralisation to EU-level in these areas will reduce preference satisfaction, weaken accountability and decrease efficiency and innovation. In the long run the social pillar therefore is likely to be a threat to welfare and prosperity in Europe, and as a consequence, cause damage to the legitimacy of the European Union.

Keywords: Nils Karlson; Felinda Wennerberg; European Integration; Social policy; Labour policy; Subsidiarity; Legitimacy; Prosperity

JEL-codes: F15; H53; I38; J58

37 pages, November 19, 2018

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