What are the benefits and what are the problems of the European Social Model?

Docente: Anne Christine Holtmann – European University Institute, Department of Social and Political Sciences

Lingua: Inglese

In European Documents the European Social Model it is often described as a “USA plus” model. In terms of the state it is claimed that European States have a liberal democracy like the USA plus a redistributing welfare state. European economies are expected to combine a dynamic market economy with social dialogue in labour relations as well as ecologically sustainable development. And finally they shall offer individual opportunities as well as social security and cohesion. So in short, the Europe 2020 goals aim at uniting dynamic economic growth with social justice.
US-Americans, on the other hand, tend to see a conflict between these aims. From their perspective, redistributing welfare states constrain individual freedom through taxing. In the field of the economy, generous unemployment benefits are seen to reduce incentives to work. And while the US is perceived as the country of the American dream, Europe does not seem to provide mobility chances. Instead, it is criticised for spending too much on pensions instead of on future oriented investment in children.
In my presentation I want to analyse if there is a trade-off between economic growth and social justice or whether these goals can be united. In doing so I investigate welfare state change and touch the question how different the European and the American welfare states are as well as the question if European welfare states are becoming more similar and if it makes sense to speak of a European Social Model.