ABSTRACT - This paper tackles the notion of solidarity in the EU from a realistic perspective and aims at clarifying two common flaws in the arguments of many who invoke it: vagueness and utopianism. I have two aims: to clarify the concept of solidarity, and to offer a realistic justification for its application to the EU. To make sense of the heterogeneous history of the concept, I suggest distinguishing it from charity, which is spontaneous and universal, and from fraternity, which relates to a mere emotional sense of fellow-feeling. This less demanding conception of solidarity can be realistically defended as instrumental to stabilizing political cooperation within the EU, and as such it is in the long-term enlightened self-interest of all its members.
M. Ferrera, forthcoming in F. Vandenbroucke (ed.), A Social Union after the Crisis, Cambridge: Cambridge University press