Assessing European Social Policy

  • Linda Hantrais


After serving for three years as Director General for Social Affairs at the Commission in the 1970s, Michael Shanks could still ask: ‘does the European Community have a role to play in the social field … over and above that of its member-States? If so, what is it? If not’, he wondered, ‘what is the degree of social diversity … which the European Community can tolerate and survive?’ (Shanks, 1977, p. 9). The next two decades brought many signs that the Community was actively developing a social dimension. A spate of social action programmes were initiated in the 1970s, followed in the 1980s by strong statements in support of a social space from the President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, culminating in the signing of the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers in 1989 [1.7]. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 on European Union [1.6] extended the sections of the original EEC Treaty [1.2] on social policy to cover education, vocational training and youth, culture and public health (Articles 118–29) and amended the section on economic and social cohesion (Articles 130a-e), which had been introduced in the Single European Act (SEA) in 1986 [1.5]. An Agreement on Social Policy was annexed to the Treaty. Then in 1994, following a lengthy process of consultation, the Commission published a wide-ranging White Paper [1.13] setting the scene for European social policy through to the year 2000.


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© Linda Hantrais 1995

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  • Linda Hantrais

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