Published: our working paper on the potential and limits for social policy in the current EU framework


Working paper on the potential and limits for social policy in the current EU framework

EuSocialCit member Ane Aranguiz has published Working paper on the potential and limits for social policy in the current EU framework

The overarching goal of EuSocialCit is to provide a scientific analysis and examine the alternative policy scenarios that support EU social citizenship. To this end it will present a conceptual framework for the selection of priorities in the development and implementation of European social rights and European social citizenship. In this context, the current working paper examines the limitations and potential of social policy in the existing EU legal constellation upon which the abovementioned priorities can be based. It does so by studying first the competences of the EU in social policy and exploring the power resources on the basis of the resource-based understanding provided in Vandenbroucke et al (2021).

The regulatory policy framework of the EU is highly fragmented and, as a result, so are the power resources that the EU offers to individuals. While piecing together the puzzle of these power resources is no easy task, the working paper shows that there are diverse power resources at the EU level that entitle individuals to, inter alia, claim-rights, access to information, and the possibility to be heard as well as to be advised on complex situations. These power resources come with a number of limitations, not the least that much of what comprises social rights is still dealt with by national authorities. To the end of delineating the contours of what we understand as the social dimension of the EU, this Working Paper first analyses the social competences (part I) and then breaks down the power resources offered by the EU (part II).

Part I explores alternative competence scenarios under the current legal framework that allow the EU to adopt social instruments in a number of broad areas. In doing so, Part I also examines the limitations that exist in the current constitutional framework.

Part II, instead, discusses the different power resources that currently exist in this constitutional framework. This part is divided in the tripod of power resources identified in a previous Working Paper and it discusses, accordingly, normative, instrumental and enforcement power resources.

Overall, the Working Paper finds that there are abundant power resources available at the EU, and that a number of these can be key in empowering individuals to effectively enjoy social rights. Whereas this certainly adds to the plethora of resources available to reach an enhanced standard of living, the abundancy of resources is paired with increased complexity. As a consequence, it is not always clear how these instruments interact with each other and what the hierarchy between them is —perhaps with the exception of the binding instruments. In this vein, there is room for improvement, both in terms of exercising existing competences and providing individuals with effective power resources.