Author meets Critics:

Social Europe, The Road not Taken. The Left and European integration in the Long 1970s

With Aurélie D. Andry, a post-doctoral researcher at Université d’Évry Paris-Saclay / IDHES. Discussant: Peo Hansen (Linköping University).


Whatever happened to Social Europe? Did the European Left manage to influence the evolution of European integration since WWII?

Based on fresh archival research, this book examines the European Left's attempt to think and give shape to an alternative type of European integration during the long 1970s. It shows that the western European Left – in particular social democratic parties, trade unions, and to a lesser extent ‘Eurocommunist’ parties – formulated a project to turn ‘capitalist Europe’ into a ‘social’ or ‘workers' Europe’. This project favoured coordinated measures for wealth redistribution, market regulation, a democratisation of the economy and European institutions, upward harmonisation of social and fiscal systems, more inclusive welfare regimes, guaranteed employment, economic and social planning with greater consideration for the environment, increased public spending to meet collective needs, greater control of capital flows and multinational corporations, a reduction in working time, and a fairer international economic order favouring the global south. During the pivotal years following 1968, deeply marked by labour militancy, new social movements, economic crisis, and the unmaking of the ‘postwar compromise’, a window of opportunity opened in which European integration could have taken different roads. The defeat of ‘social Europe’ was a result of a decade-long social conflict which ended with the affirmation of a neoliberal Europe.

Investigating this forgotten struggle and the reasons for its defeat can be useful not just to scholars and students eager to understand the historical evolution of European integration, the European Left, and European capitalism, but also to anyone interested in building alternative European and global futures.

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