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EU law, politics, and the social question

de Witte, Floris ORCID: 0000-0001-8068-7110 (2013) EU law, politics, and the social question. German Law Journal, 14 (5). pp. 581-612. ISSN 2071-8322

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A. Introduction This contribution analyzes how the process of European integration has affected the capacity of citizens to collectively decide on the “social question,” that is, on the distribution of resources and life chances between individuals in a society. It starts by highlighting the pivotal role of “the political” in any answer to such question (B); generally traces the demise of this role under the pressures of globalization, legal integration, and the sovereign debt crisis (C); and suggests that law has been an important instrument for the lifting of the social question outside the scope of political contestation. This contribution then briefly catalogues different alternatives that can serve to reappropriate the social question within the realm of politics, argues that our priority should lie in the formation of a transnational public sphere, and suggests that EU law can, in several ways, contribute towards, if not fully deliver, a return of authorship and ownership about how societies function to the citizen (D). Regeneration Europe argues, among other things, that the Union no longer represents what Europe is and means to its citizens. One of the most politically salient and obvious ways in which this phenomenon is visible lies in the capacity of citizens to decide on how their own society is structured, which moral norms guide it, and how scarce resources are distributed. While citizens can still decide such issues, the capacity of their Member State to implement the answer has progressively decreased. To be sure, the loss of the citizen’s voice in answering this social question is neither a new phenomenon, nor exclusive to the European Union. Yet, in light of the Union’s recent eagerness to engage in distributive politics, in the historical context of the European tradition of social welfarism, in light of the Union’s...

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 German Law Journal
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JX International law
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2013 16:06
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2021 23:10

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