C. Burelli

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. 

A. Miglio, European Papers, 27 September 2016, pp. 1-12


Regulation 2016/369 establishes an emergency support mechanism for the provision of humanitarian aid in response to natural or man-made disasters giving rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences within the European Union. Although its scope of application is much broader, the Regulation has been adopted as an emergency measure for the management of the ongoing refugee crisis. It is therefore promising to look at the newly established mechanism against the background of other measures adopted or proposed in response to the crisis. In this perspective, the Regulation appears to fit within an overall strategy whereby Union funding is used as an instrument of policy-making to bring about further centralization. Finally, the analysis of the mechanism, which is meant to provide support to Member States “in a spirit of solidarity”, suggests a few conclusions on the meaning of the principle of solidarity and its implications in the context of the refugee crisis. It is suggested that two very different visions of solidarity, an emergency-driven and a structural one, coexist and may interact with each other in two ways.

the paper is avbailable here.

M. Ferrera, In Biblioteca della Libertà. 214, settembre-dicembre 2015


The intra-EU mobility of workers/persons  is becoming an increasingly contentious and polarizing issue and is occupying the center stage in the so-called  Brexit debate. Challenging the principle of free movement is no trivial matter. What is actually put in question are not only the foundational pillars of  the single market, but of the EU as such, understood as a single (would-be) polity. The aim of this paper is to offer an analytical framing of this challenge. Section 1 provides a brief historical reconstruction of welfare state building at the national level, highlighting the salience of boundaries and of the “bounding-bonding” nexus. It also discusses the impact of European integration on the intra-EU boundary configuration in the sphere of solidarity. Section 2 illustrates the state of play as regards mobility, summarizing the findings of empirical research on the economic and financial implications of free movement and of the social security coordination regime. Section 3 argues that – in addition to economic efficiency – the  principle/logic that underpins free movement is that of “hospitality”, rather than the more general principle of solidarity. The section then discusses some unintended practical implications that follow from the logic of hospitality and that lie at the basis of  the increasing contentiousness around free movement.  Section 4 discusses possible institutional remedies for containing political contention. The underlying assumption is that the preservation of free movement is key for the survival of the EU qua political association/community and that such preservation must be the object of an essentially political (and not merely functional) strategy on the side of EU authorities. The conclusion wraps up.

The paper is available here.

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.

M. Ferrera,

in Constellations, Vol. 21, Issue 2, 2014, pp. 222–238.



The nation-based welfare state (NBWS) and the European Union (EU) are two precious legacies of the 20th century. Their mutual relationship is however fraught by unresolved tensions (and a potential “clash”), which the recent crisis has been markedly exacerbating. When, how and why did the original “elective affinity” between the WS and the EU spheres start to weaken? Is “reconciliation” possible and how? These questions lie at the centre of current academic and public debates. The WS serves essential economic, social and political functions. But the financing of its programmes strains public budgets and raises sustainability challenges, especially in the wake of growing demographic ageing. The EU (EMU in particular) is in its turn essential for growth, jobs and macro-economic stability, but tends to undermine the WS’s very institutional foundation: the sovereign right of the state to determine the boundaries, forms and extent of national solidarity, including tax and spending levels. The aim of this article is to cast new light on such issues by focusing on the “intellectual” logic which has guided WS-building, on the one hand, and EU-building, on the other, and by highlighting the responsibility of this logic in generating the clash. Drawing on Weber’s insights on the relationship between ideas, values and politics, I will try to reconnect these three elements for interpreting the current predicament and for putting forward some suggestions on how to overcome it. The article is organised as follows. The next section presents the topic and the approach. The second section illustrates the ideational logics which have guided, respectively, the development of the welfare state at the national level and the process of economic integration at the supranational level. The
third and fourth sections will in turn summarize my diagnosis and outline an agenda for intellectual “work” on both the epistemic and axiological fronts, which I see as a prerequisite for responsible and effective political choices. The conclusion wraps up.

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