Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

By Klaus Larres; Elizabeth Meehan | Go to book overview

10
European Union Social Policy: German and
British Perspectives on Industrial Citizenship

ELIZABETH MEEHAN

European Union (EU) social policy is not, as it is in states, directly redistributive. EU policy instruments provide a regulatory framework for the operation of state social policies in certain fields. This framework has come about for reasons specific to integration and does not cover the normal spectrum of intervention. These reasons include the needs to: reduce impediments, including nationality-based discrimination, to the free movement of labour; make integration more attractive to ordinary people; and reconcile the goal of economic and social cohesion with dislocations arising from the creation of a single European market.

In contrast to some of its member states, the EU has no enforceable social policy provisions specifically aimed at equality for indigenous ethnic minority communities. Provisions relating to migrants from countries outside the EU are dealt with, not as matters of social policy, but— hitherto—under the Justice and Home Affairs pillar of the Maastricht Treaty. Both of these are set to change under the Amsterdam Treaty which provides a constitutional basis for the enactment of EU legislation to outlaw ethnic and racial discrimination and which will bring the treatment of migrants from ‘third countries’ under the aegis of Community instead of intergovernmental institutions.

The main successes in securing agreement over EU social policy have been the co-ordination of social security arrangements for migrant workers and, irrespective of migration, in the fields of sex equality and occupational health and safety. The main controversy over social policy has been in the field of industrial citizenship. Since industrial citizenship is significant to competing conceptions of European integration and since Germany and the United Kingdom (UK) are central to this conflict, this chapter will concentrate on that aspect of social policy.

Recent literature reveals three understandings of developments in industrial and social citizenship in the EU. One suggestion is that there

The author would like to thank Mary Browne for her generous assistance with sources.

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