Ever since its foundation more than 60 years ago, the European Union has been very important to the welfare and prosperity in Europe. For example, according to one estimate Sweden has almost doubled its trade and increased its growth by 3-20 percent since its membership in 1995. Apart from the promotion of peace, this is mainly due to the opening up of the common market with around 500 million people and the successive implementation of the freedom of movement for goods, services, capital and people.
Even so, in the areas of social and labour market policies some Member States have had severe problems, with low labour market participation and high unemployment levels, especially among the young and immigrants. This is an area where the European Union only has been conferred shared and coordinating competences, and hitherto this area primarily has been regulated through soft-law where the EU has developed non-binding strategies through the social dialogue.
This however could be about to change, as a solution to the problems the Union is facing the European Union has proclaimed its fourth pillar, The European Pillar of Social Rights.
In this report, we investigate the potential short- and long-term consequences of the social pillar on the welfare and prosperity of Europe. Moreover, we discuss its potential effects on the legitimacy of the European Union, as well as an alternative way forward, namely institutional competition as the method to improve efficiency and innovation along with voter satisfaction in Europe.