The Social Dimension of 1992: Europe Faces a New Ec

By Beverly Springer | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
The Social Dimension: Its Relationship to the 1992 Initiative

In 1988, the Commission added a social dimension to the 1992 initiative ( CEC 1988k). Work on the economic proposals contained in the White Paper on the Internal Market had been going on for three years before the Social Dimension was added. Inevitably, questions were raised about the necessity and the status of the new addition. The Commission claimed that social policy had always been implied by the 1992 initiative and that the social proposals were not secondary to the original economic proposals. Many business groups, as well as the British government, disputed the Commission's claims. For the first time, the 1992 initiative became the subject of serious public controversy.

The controversy over the Social Dimension is probably, in reality, the controversy over the future of European integration. Those who oppose the Social Dimension but support the original 1992 proposal see European integration in economic terms. For them, the role of the EC is to be the police officer who prevents national governments from interfering with the internal market. The market itself is to be free, operating under economic laws of the marketplace and with a minimum of regulations. Those who support the Social Dimension have a more qualified belief in the economic laws of the marketplace. They foresee a role for the EC in which it not only restrains national policies, but also supplements or replaces national policies, the effectiveness of which has been undermined by economic integration. The story of the Social Dimension--its history, extent, and justification--is a part of the story of the struggle to shape the future of European integration.

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