Zal méér integratie het Europese sociale model kunnen redden?

BRUSSEL – Op bijeenkomsten op hoog niveau van de Europese elite hoor je vaak het volgende soort uitspraken: “Europa moet integreren en zijn economisch bestuur centraliseren, om zijn sociale model te kunnen beschermen in een tijdperk van globalisering.” José Manuel Barroso, de voorzitter van de Europese Commissie, en Herman van Rompuy, de president van de Europese Raad, bedienen zich graag van dit argument.

Maar de bewering dat slechts een diepere integratie van de Europese Unie het 'Europese' sociale model kan behoeden voor de aanval van de opkomende markten is niet waar. Jazeker, de globalisering vertegenwoordigt een uitdaging voor alle lidstaten van de EU, maar het is niet duidelijk hoe méér integratie hen zou kunnen helpen er het hoofd aan te bieden. Méér Europees economisch bestuur is geen wondermiddel.

In feite is het nog niet eens duidelijk welk Europees sociaal model moet worden gered. Er zijn enorme verschillen tussen de lidstaten van de Europese Unie als het gaat om de omvang van hun publieke sector, de flexibiliteit van hun arbeidsmarkten, en vrijwel iedere sociaal-economische indicator die je maar kunt bedenken. De gemeenschappelijke elementen die gewoonlijk met het 'Europese' sociale model in verband worden gebracht zijn een streven naar gelijkheid en een sterke verzorgingsstaat.

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