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On the social state of the E.U. : (the ethic of care, the open method of co-ordination, and the future of European social policy-making) de Merich, Diego

Abstract

The following study presents an analysis of historical and current trends within social policy development at the European level. Recognizing the success which the E U has achieved in economic and monetary union since the Treaty of Rome (1957); recognizing the varying levels of success which individual member countries have achieved in terms of their own welfare state policies, I ask what conditions might be necessary in order to achieve comparable success for social policy development and provision at the Union level. While recognizing the existence of myriad interpretations of the integration process (from neo-functionalism to intergovernmentalism, corporatism to pluralism), as well as the many tensions and social cleavages at play within the various societies of the Union, this study focuses on only two ethical/theoretical paradigms, and on two methods of governance which can or could be used for future European social policy development. These are the Ethic of Justice and the Ethic of Care, and the Community Method (or hard law approach) and the Co-Ordination Method (or soft law approach), respectively. The two principal questions addressed in this study are: 1) Which theoretical paradigm is best suited to address the complex process of European social policy integration? and 2) Which method, or mode of governance, would best operationalize this chosen normative paradigm? In attempting to answer these questions, the works of John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Jeremy Waldron and David Miller (justice), as well as those of Joan Tronto, Olena Hankivsky, Christine Koggel and Selma Sevenhuijsen, are discussed. An overview of the historical developments of integration within the social policy field is also offered as a means of emphasizing the continuity that exists within various soft law traditions of E U policy development. I also propose three different criteria of responsiveness with which to evaluate the two paradigms and governance methods. Finally, as a means of drawing upon the positive attributes of each theoretical framework and mode of governance, two hybrid or compromise solutions are proposed and analyzed, namely a Principled Ethic of Care and the Open Method of Co-Ordination.

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