Societal integration of EU member-states: towards single social areas.
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Societal integration of EU member-states: towards single social areas. Monica Threlfall ISET, London Metropolitan University

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Societal integration of eu member states towards single social areas

Societal integration of EU member-states: towards single social areas.

Monica ThrelfallISET, London Metropolitan University

Reference: ‘European Social Integration: Harmonization, Convergence and Single Social Areas’, Journal of European Social Policy 2003 Vol 13:2, pp.121-139,

Rationale for social integration
Rationale for social integration social areas.

  • If integration = creating a single entity from separate units > making parts into a whole

  • If economic integration = Removal of trade barriers > EU-wide business competition > Single market

  • If political integration = Joint decision-making > common laws; a common parliament

  • Then social integration is parallel process?

    • Common social policies and laws adopted, but do they produce social integration?

    • Do these social policies have the effect of removing barriers between member states?

  • Possible effects of social integration of ms
    Possible effects of social integration of MS social areas.

    • A convergence of MS social trends? More similar?

    • A harmonised pan-european legal social environment?

    • A ‘single’ European society?

    • Isolated areas of integrated social institutions?

    • Effect on the experience of residents in their daily lives?

      • Eg experience no barriers

      • Experience no more obstacles than they do in their own country in their everyday life

    The nots
    the social areas.nots…

    • Paper is not about ‘europeanisation’ of policy-making, as this refers to at what level the decision is made

    • Not a narrative of loss of decision-making autonomy by MS over social policy

    • Not about the actors in social policymaking

    • Not about MS poverty or social exclusion, ie lack of domestic social integration/cohesion in a MS

    • Not about EU promoting high social standards

    Any basis in treaty of rome 1
    Any basis in Treaty of Rome? 1 social areas.

    • Article 117 Treaty of Rome 1957

      “Member-states agree upon the need to promote better conditions of living and of work for workers,

      so as to make possible their harmonisation while improvement is being maintained.

      They believe that such a development will ensue not only from the functioning of the common market, which will favour the harmonisation of social systems,

      but also from the procedures provided for in this Treaty and from the approximation of provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action.”

    Possible interpretation
    Possible interpretation social areas.

    • There should be a convergence of standards - without the more advanced countries lowering theirs, so MS should be in harmony with each other.

    • This will happen as part of the common market – which will even favour the different social systems coming together.

    • And also because the treaty facilitates it and because new laws and regulations will be adopted

    Any basis in treaty tfeu art 151
    Any basis in Treaty TFEU Art. 151? social areas.

    “The Union and the Member States, having in mind fundamental social rights such as those set out in the European Social Charter signed at Turin on 18 October 1961 and in the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, shall have as their objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, so as to make possible their harmonisationwhile the improvement is being maintained, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion.

    To this end the Union and the Member States shall implement measures which take account of the diverse forms of national practices, in particular in the field of contractual relations, and the need to maintain the competitiveness of the Union’s economy.

    They believe that such a development will ensue not only from the functioning of the internal market, which will favour the harmonisation of social systems, but also from the procedures provided for in the Treaties and from the approximation of provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action.”

    Eu social changemaking processes
    EU social areas. social changemaking processes

    • Supranational:

    • Lawmaking:

      • Treaties: Preambles [Principles] and Articles;

      • Charters [Nice]

      • Council of Ministers & European Parliament

    • Implementation of laws: ECJ case law; EU Monitoring centres

    • EU level Policymaking:

      • EP Committees [Employment & Social Affairs]; EP reports

      • Commission White & Green Papers; Research Reports

      • Action Programmes,

      • Agencies eg EFIWLC; Expert Observatories

    Eu social changemaking processes 2
    EU social changemaking processes 2 social areas.

    Intergovernmental policy influence:

    • European Council of Heads of State & Government Resolutions

    • Open Method of Coordination venue

    • MS policy direction: own parliamentary scrutiny & reports

      Inter Non-governmental / societal:

    • Lobbies, Networks; Forums;

      Central EU actions

    • Structural Funds disbursements

    • Special programme disbursements [Year of…]

      • Economic & Social Committee reports

      • Social Partner dialogues

    Resulting levels of societal integration
    Resulting levels of societal integration social areas.

    • Criterion: good or poor, it’s the same all over EU

      • Degree to which residents in a MS experience living in the EU as in a single country over certain aspects

      • Degree of harmonised legal environment so that moving to work and live in another MS creates no more obstacles than moving within a country

      • Degree of ease of cross-border consumption of goods and services compared to domestic

      • Degree of cross-border validity of judicial orders affecting ordinary citizens

    Single labour market for jobseekers via free movement law
    Single labour market for jobseekers via free movement law social areas.

    • Removal of work permit barriers > from several labour markets to one

    • Right to apply for jobs in all MS

    • Single job search facility + MS-wide job advertisements

    • Non-discrimination in pay & conditions [tho these may vary high/low]

    • Experience of employee comparable to seeking another job within 1 MS at basic level

    Higher education area
    Higher Education area social areas.

    • Access to all HEI in EU = SSA

    • Equal treatment in fees and access

    • But no EU Commission competence to harmonise;

    • Inter-governmental ‘Bologna’ process to harmonise degree length format

    • Cross-border secondary education feasible

    Consumers shopping
    Consumers & Shopping social areas.

    • Single shopping area

    • Common guarantee period against faulty goods [Dir.199]

    • EEJ-Net Extra-judicial networks for

    • out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes across borders.

    Workplace heath safety
    Workplace Heath & Safety social areas.

    • Most fully covered field: 50+ legal instruments [Regulations, Directives etc])

    • Field governed by QMV so MS agree to harmonise for ‘high level of protection’ [race to the top?]

    • Employees’ experience of risk is as in one country?

      • fatal accidents falling and converging in all MS from a varied base

    Working conditions
    Working conditions social areas.

    • Job protection – 2 Directives

      • Collective redundancies only after consultation

      • Conditions protected on transfer/takeover of companies by new owner

    • Weak approximation of conditions

    • …..

    • …..

    Social insurance
    Social insurance social areas.

    • Aggregation of national insurance/social security entitlements gained from one country to another > mutual recognition system [not single EU level system]

    • Equal treatment of all MS workers re social insurance and pension contributions [non-discrimination]

    • But entitlements and contributions vary between MS esp re pensions > workers only transfer from one to another]

    • Employees not living as in one country as generous/mean levels of state pension prevail [no harmonization]

    Cross border litigation
    Cross-border litigation social areas.

    • To improve access to justice in cross-border cases

    • 20+ legislative instruments

      • Principle of mutual recognition of judgments and decisions re cross-border crime + extrajudicial decisions re cross-border civil cases [Art.67 TFEU]

      • Direct judicial cooperation

      • Ensuring that judgments in one country are recognised and enforced in other countries without difficulties

      • European Arrest Warrant [cutting out extradition]

    Persons involved in disputes
    Persons involved in disputes social areas.

    • Common rules re legal aid for party resident in a different MS to where court is sitting

      • Pre-litigation advice + representation in court

      • Costs of opposing party incurred by losing party even if latter is not resident in MS of sitting court

      • Dependant on financial situation of recipient

    • EFFECT: Legal aid levels not harmonised

    • But access to it across EU as if living in one country [border removal]

    Drivers and their victims
    Drivers and their victims social areas.

    • EU-wide protection of victims of road accidents [0.5m pa] = SSA

    • Harmonisation of car registration periods, seatbelt rules.

    • EU-wide driving bans = SSA

    • Mutual recognition of financial penalties for road traffic offences = SSA

    Cross national marriage and divorce
    Cross-national marriage and divorce social areas.

    • 16m inter-national couples in EU

    • EU empowered to take measures on family law with cross-border implications via special legislative procedure [Co Reg 1347 2000]

      • MS agree spouses can choose under which country’s law to litigate (place of marriage, or residence of either party); provisions for agreement btw the two.

      • i.e. fact of living in different countries makes no difference to this aspect of divorce proceedings.

      • Country of litigation now ineffective

    • Family court judgements are ‘mobile’ ie apply equally across EU = SSA

    Cross border healthcare
    Cross-border Healthcare social areas.

    • No harmonisation of healthcare systems or provision, yet…(building on Kohl and Decker 1998)

    • Patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare situations and in access to treatments across borders (public systems) = SSA [Dir 2011/24/EU]

    • Agreement on common values and operational principles >> 18 Dir + Regs

    • Cross-border reimbursement of costs incurred by citizens [with/ and without/ prior authorisation]

    • Recognition of prescriptions

    • Convergence of quality and specialisms via Euro Reference Networks; & info via eHeath Network

    Anti discrimination policies
    Anti-discrimination policies social areas.

    • Based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation

      • are internal to MS, and if involve equal treatment, vary in standards

      • Council: Joint action Plan to combat racism and xenophobia, 1996 [non-binding]

        = SSA? a harmonised environment of non-discrimination? Freedom from discrimination experienced in EU as in one country?

    Single social areas for which eu nationals legal residents
    Single social areas for which EU nationals/legal residents? social areas.

    • Job seekers

    • Workers (workplace physical environment)

    • Benefit claimants

    • Women who have been trafficked

    • Ethnic minorities?

    • Disabled persons?

    • Non-heterosexuals?

    • Criminals (cross-border crime: organised, financial, computer, ecological, etc)

    • Suspects of crime and defendants (domestic, but AWOL cross-border)

    • Victims of crime

    • Free movers as potential victims of administrative obstruction and crime

    • Mixed nationality spouses

    • Consumers

    • Drivers

    • Students

    • Professionals – doctors, architects, etc

    • Asylum-seekers and failed ASs

    • Sick resident free mover pensioners and other free movers accessing healthcare benefits in kind

    • Patients seeking cross-border medical treatments, esp emergencies.