European Social Policy: Progressive Regression

MPIfG Discussion Paper 18/11

31 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019

See all articles by Wolfgang Streeck

Wolfgang Streeck

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Date Written: December 1, 2018


European social policy changed with the evolution of European and global capitalism, the scope and shape of European-level international institutions, the size and heterogeneity of “Europe” as a polity, and the politics of the European national welfare state. The paper outlines the long-term trajectory of European social policy, from the intended absorption of national welfare states into one united, federal welfare state to a selective updating of national social policies by European social policies; to multi-level coordination of national systems by special European institutions; to European soft law helping national “modernization” on the “Third Way”; to exposure of national systems to international economic competition as an incentive for “structural reform”; and to subordination of social policy, national and European, to the defense of a common hard currency through fiscal consolidation – from, in other words, federal social democracy to competitive “adjustment” of national social protection and social life to global markets.

Keywords: Europe, European Integration, European Social Policy

JEL Classification: H11, I18, I30, O52

Suggested Citation

Streeck, Wolfgang, European Social Policy: Progressive Regression (December 1, 2018). MPIfG Discussion Paper 18/11, Available at SSRN: or

Wolfgang Streeck (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies ( email )

Paulstr. 3
Cologne, 50676


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics