M. Ferrera, in European Journal of Political Research, vol. 56, no. 1, 2017, pp. 3-22. Also published online on 17 January 2017
ABSTRACT. During the crisis, the European Union's ‘social deficit’ has triggered an increasing politicisation of redistributive issues within supranational, transnational and national arenas. Various lines of conflict have taken shape, revolving around who questions (who are ‘we’? – i.e., issues of identity and inclusion/exclusion); what questions (how much redistribution within and across the ‘we’ collectivities) and who decides questions (the locus of authority that can produce and guarantee organised solidarity). The key challenge facing today's political leaders is how to ‘glue’ the Union together as a recogniseable and functioning polity. This requires a double rebalancing: between the logic of ‘opening’ and the logic of ‘closure’, on the one hand, and between the logic of ‘economic stability’ and ‘social solidarity’, on the other. Building on the work of Stein Rokkan and Max Weber, this article argues that reconciliation is possible, but only if carefully crafted through an extraordinary mobilisation of political and intellectual resources. A key ingredient should be the establishment of a European Social Union, capable of combining domestic and pan‐European solidarities. In this way, the EU could visibly and tangibly extend its policy menu from regulation to (limited, but effective) distribution, reaping the latter's benefits in terms of legitimacy. The journey on this road is difficult but, pace Rokkan, not entirely impervious.
This article is available here