Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 203–221 | Cite as

‘An uplifting tale of Europe’. Jacques Delors and the contradictory quest for a European social model in the Age of Reagan

  • Alessandra BitumiEmail author


Based on the personal papers of Jacques Delors, this article discusses the origins and significance of Delors’s ambition to provide a renewed and updated form of socially embedded capitalism, within the framework of the Atlantic Community in the 1980s. Engaging in a political and intellectual battle against ‘Reaganism’, the President of the European Commission tried to draw the boundaries of Europe’s alleged distinctiveness, turning this imagined Europe into a project for the future. The article reveals how the ‘Social nature’ of Europe, ubiquitously and conveniently opposed to the neoliberal character of US capitalism, has been the pillar of a long popular exceptionalist narrative that became hegemonic, in the EU and progressively worldwide, in the ‘age of Delors’.


Jacques Delors European integration Reaganism Europe social model narratives 


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© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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