M. Ferrera, forthcoming in F. Vandenbroucke (ed.), A Social Union after the Crisis, Cambridge: Cambridge University press



M. Ferrera, in Journal of European Public Policy, published online on 19 September 2016.


Reorienting the welfare state towards social investment (SI) constitutes a complex and multidimensional challenge of policy recalibration and raises daunting political problems. The temporal mismatch between SI reforms and their returns requires a degree of ‘political patience’ on the side of both current voters and incumbent politicians which is not readily available in contemporary democracies. After reviewing recent debates about the policy and politics of the long term, the article analyzes the strategy pursued by the European Union (EU), with a view to assessing their degree of ‘conduciveness’ to SI recalibration. It is argued that the EU has indeed stimulated policy change at the national level, but that its potential as SI facilitator has been hamstrung by a number of weaknesses and shortcomings, especially on the discursive front. A more convinced and articulated endorsement of the social investment paradigm and a more focused attention to ‘capacity’ at the subnational and grass-root level should be the fronts to prioritize.

The paper is available here.

P. Pansardi and F. Battegazzorre - ABSTRACT

In this article, we investigate whether and in which way the institution of the State of the Union Address, delivered annually by the President of the Commission to the European Parliament, has provided a setting for communication and top-down legitimation of the EU. Our analysis is based on a qualitative content analysis of the five State of the Union speeches delivered between 2010 and 2015, and is aimed at identifying the discursive legitimation strategies employed in the speeches and the particular conception of the legitimacy of the EU that emerges. Our findings show the presence of a number of elements of discontinuity that characterize the passage from the speeches by Barroso (2010; 2011; 2012; 2013) to the one pronounced by Juncker in 2015, and highlight a difference both in the discursive legitimation strategies employed and in the conception of the legitimacy of the EU that they promote.

F. Stamati - ABSTRACT

This paper proposes the concept of Union-leadership for the study of polity-building at the EU level. It draws on Ferrera’s diagnosis of a de-conciliation between market-making and market-correcting developments in European integration in order to formulate the following puzzle: why political agency is letting the EU polity project falter? The concept of Union-leadership is presented as a tool to tackle this question from a Weberian perspective. The paper is structured as follows. The first section tentatively formulates the concept of Union-leadership. The second specifies the logic of action of Union-leadership within a neo-Weberian framework. The third one further develops the concept by discussing a number of qualifications needed to sharpen the analytical focus on personality and statecraft. The paper concludes by assessing the limits and prospects of Union-leadership for studying the current political crisis of the EU.

The REScEU project is looking for an University/Institution/Private company to subcontract the management of an élite survey and a mass survey, that falls withbin the scope of the project, in six European countries, i.e. France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. For the details of the surveys please consult the Document of Work you may find in the webpage dedicated to the "project". The content of the questionnaire will be provided by the REScEU team. With the results of the surveys, the REScEU team will produce reports and papers, maintaining the intellectual property of the results. The surveys must be conducted between September and December 2016.

ELITE SURVEY: The target groups for the elite survey are national MPs and former MPs in the six countries. A total of n=70 interviews need to be conducted in each country (total 420 interviews). The questionnaire's lenght is estimated in 20 minutes.

MASS SURVEY: The mass survey comprises 1,250 respondents per country (total 7,500 interviews) interviewed using a mixed-mode approach (CATI-CAWI). The questionnaire's lenght is estimated in 20 minutes.

Please send your request for offer by 8 July 2016 to Maurizio Ferrera at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , stating that the cost estimation is for project REScEU, Reconciling Economic and Social Europe ERC grant n. 340534.

In your offer, please specify:

  • whether the offer covers the mass survey, the élite survey, or both surveys.
  • description of your services and of the personnel devoted to the REScEU surveys
  • methodology for the mass survey
  • methodology for the élite survey
  • cost for the mass survey
  • cost for the élite survey
  • any other cost associated to the survey
  • timeline of the work
  • payment method


Please note that REScEU project is subject to VAT exemption.


For any doubts please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.











The latest EuVisions article by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli, on the brexit issue is featured on Linkiesta



Piero Tortola, one of REScEU's researchers and director of EuVisions was interviewed by Federico Taddia on Radio 24, during the programme "L'altra Europa", which deals with the current EU themes. You may find the interview here from minute 10.00 http://www.radio24.ilsole24ore.com/programma/altra-europa/trasmissione-giugno-2016-130140-gSLAotvggB

On 24 May Maurizio Ferrera gives a public lecture at The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. 


Since Italy’s entry into the ERM in 1978, the strategic goal of the country’s center-left elites has been to firmly anchor Italy’s unstable and weak political economy within “Europe.” Pursuing this goal has been a balancing act: molding an external constraint in Brussels to make it domestically “manageable”; forcing compliance at home through structural and institutional reform. Admission into the EMU with the first group of countries in 1998 was an emblematic sign of success: Italy was able to become a “pupil” of the top league of Europe. But it remained an (increasingly) bad pupil, especially under Berlusconi. When the crisis hit in 2008, Italy’s political economy quickly became a shambles again. The risk of being downgraded to a “program country” under Troika surveillance loomed on the horizon. As in the early 1990s, a technocratic government, led this time by Monti, adopted a harsh reform package and tied the country’s hands with a much stricter external constraint: the Fiscal Compact. In 2014, Italy exited the EU’s EDP and MIP procedures: back to the classroom. Under Letta and, more openly, under Renzi, Italy has also become more assertive, in an attempt to re-mold the external constraint in a more favorable direction. It remains to be seen whether the country’s political economy will be able to fully overcome the crisis and sustain the European political ambitions of the Renzi government.

Rotta di Collisione. Euro contro welfare? is the new book by Maurizio Ferrera.


ABSTRACT: The Europe of constraints and sanctions has exceeded the limit. We need new ideas to reconcile economic integration and the European social model. Is the EU weakening the social status of its member countries? Why is it so hard to bring together national solidarity and European economic integration? These questions spring from the decisions taken in recent years by the EU supranational authorities, which especially affect young people and the most vulnerable sections of the population. The reconciliation between welfare and Europe is no "mission impossible". However, it requires an ambitious intellectualand political effort. Maurizio Ferrera proposes concrete ideas to move in this direction and urges the national elites and the Brussels authorities to engage to strengthen the EU and improve its ability to ensure social protection and external security. That is the only way for the European project to produce widespread benefits and regain the lost legitimacy.

M. Ferrera - ABSTRACT

Just like security and peace, organized solidarity is a key political good for a stable and effective functioning of both the market and democracy and for mediating their inevitable tensions. In historical perspective, the national systems of social protection can be seen as the end result of a long process of ‘bounding’, ‘bonding’ and “binding” . During the twentieth century, the consolidation of territorial borders and of “nationality” filters (bounding) fed increasingly stronger sharing dispositions (bonding) among citizens, allowing for the establishment of compulsory mass social insurance (binding). In the absence of strong state boundaries eliciting mutual ties among insiders, the political production of organized solidarity (i.e. public welfare systems with high redistributive capacity) would have been impossible. As highlighted by the so-called ‘state-building school’ on political development, the formation of the European Union is partly replicating – under drastically changed circumstanced – the process of boundary-building which, starting from the sixteenth century, led to the modern system of nation-states (Bartolini 2005; Ferrera 2005; Flora 2000). This time around, however, the bounding–bonding-binding nexus is considerably more complicated and its activation cannot be taken for granted. While incisively re-drawing economic boundaries, the EU has indeed adopted a growing number of social provisions -some of them binding. But the construction of a “Social Europe” is faced with a daunting mission, as it involves putting in place a new, socially-friendly boundary configuration by working at the margin of the traditional and highly resilient set of state boundaries, nation-based bonds and binding redistributive schemes. This means engaging in dangerous balancing acts between “opening” and “closure”, with a view to cultivating pan-European sharing ties and crafting at least a minimally adequate system of inter-territorial and inter-personal redistribution, without however jeopardizing national systems. In the absence of a modicum of collectively organized solidarity, a complex and heterogeneous institutional construction such as the EMU is unlikely to reach viable levels of political stability.
This paper has four aims and sections. The first is to redefine analytically the very ambiguous notion of Social Europe and to identify its various components. The second is to connect this analytical redefinition
with the idea of a European Social Union (ESU) which I currently see as the most promising project for re-organizing solidarity on a European scale. The third aim is discuss some normative principles which might underpin the most delicate dimension of the ESU project, i.e. encouraging cross-national bonding and binding. The fourth section will finally try to highlight the political rationale of such principles and explain why the ESU should be considered as a key “political good”. The conclusion wraps up and reflects on possible scenarios.

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