13 Apr 2010

How social the single market?

Jacques Pelkmans

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The social dimension of the internal market has been a theme for debate ever since 1987, when Jacques Delors introduced it as a counterbalance to the emerging ‘Europhoria’ of European business about the EC-1992 single market programme. Although the complaints about the lack of a ‘Social Europe’ make it into the local and European press much more easily than a sober analysis of the actual meaning of the label and the factual progress made, this CEPS Commentary encourages the reader to step back for a moment and reflect on what ‘the’ social dimension of the single market does and does not mean and to assess where we stand today. Only then, it seems to me, is it possible to draw some inferences about the potential and scope of ‘putting the social dimension upfront’ in a new internal market initiative.
Jacques Pelkmans is Senior Fellow at CEPS and Jan Tinbergen Chair at the College of Europe, where he directs the Economic Studies Department.