The 2008/9 financial and economic crisis has discredited the neoliberal narrative which claims that the market is self-correcting and that private enterprise is superior to the public sector. In Europe, it turned out that the crisis highlighted the social and the democratic (as well as the ecological) deficits which have arisen over the past 30 years and which finally had eroded some of the most distinctive features of the European Social Model (ESM). However, the crisis has at least opened up space in the political discourse for alternative ideas concerning the creation of a more socially sustainable economy. In the essay it is argued that a renewed ESM is indispensable for a type of European integration based on social equality and environmental responsibility. After a short reference to Polanyi´s concepts of decommodification and disembedded capitalism the paper summarises the debate about the ESM and tries to capture its essence as it developed during the postwar decades. In the next section, the erosion of the ESM is described and important drivers of neoliberal restructuring in the EU are identified. The following part outlines major objectives in a possible revitalisation of the ESM based on three major projects: the renewal of the European welfare states, the reconstruction and expansion of the public sector and the democratisation of the EU and of European societies.
Recommended CitationHermann, Christoph and Mahnkopf, Birgit (2010) "Still a Future for the European Social Model?," Global Labour Journal: Vol. 1: Iss. 3, p. 314-330.
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