The Eurozone crisis has triggered a vivid debate about the future of the EU, the European Monetary Union and the European Social model both among policy makers and academics. While some commentators have highlighted the fact that market turbulences have come to a halt, others point to a number of remaining or newly created problems that continue to threaten the stability of the European Union and the well-being of households within Europe: The absence of a noticeable economic recovery, persisting mass unemployment, the continuation of the sovereign debt crisis in the majority of EU member states, and the danger of deflation are important arguments that the crisis has not been overcome. To some extent, these problems can be seen as a result of a failed crisis management consisting of a series of short sighted trial and error measures combined with an aggressive intervention of the Troika into national labor relations and welfare state regimes. Increasing inequality and poverty as well as a growing precarization of work are some of the results of this process.
While EU officials’ and national governments’ responses to the Eurozone crisis have certainly had their impact on social disruptions taking place in Europe today, it would be short-sighted to attribute the erosion of institutional safeguards to the Troika and the EU crisis policy alone. For this reason, a fundamental discussion is needed about the reasons of what we refer to as the disembedding of national market economies. We invited to a discussion about the reasons of the market-making dynamic taking place within the European Union today. In this context, we asked in how far the disembedding of national economies has been generated or facilitated by the institutional architecture of the European Union and the direction the process of integration has been taking since the second wave of integration in the 1980s.
While a growing number of authors consider European integration a main source of many problems affecting the EU, we regard it as a double-edged sword that can both stimulate liberalization processes creating disembedded market societies with all its problematic side-effects for European employees, and, potentially, contribute to the re-embedding of market societies. Albeit the more recent turbulences seemed to have pushed it into the background, the idea of a Social Europe is still present. We reconsidered this concept and discussed how the notion of Social Europe can be reactivated and what is needed to realize it.
What are the aims of the WSI Summer School? The role of EU integration for the disembedding and its potential to re-embed European societies were at the center of the WSI Summer School. From a multi-disciplinary perspective, including economics, political science, and sociology, it dealt with current problems of European integration. Furthermore, the WSI Summer School sought to find realistic perspectives for creating a more social and democratic Europe.
The WSI Summer School aimed at giving participants an overview on core policy fields which are crucial for the understanding of the dynamics of European integration:
- Institutional and Political Economic Obstacles to Social Europe
- European Macroeconomic Policy: The Euro as Challenge to the European Social Model
- Labour Markets and Social Policy in the EU and in European Member State
- Trade Unions in the EU. National Retreat or Mobilising for Social Europe?
- Sociology of European Integration. The Europeanization of Cultures, Collective Identities, and Public Spheres
The WSI Summer School did not only analyze European policies but also contributed to a critical assessment of its outcomes and discussed political alternatives. On the last day of the Summer School, prominent academics and activists were invited to identify a way out of the current predicament.
The WSI Summer School was organised by various researchers of the Institute of Economic and Social Research WSI (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut) within the Hans Böckler Foundation. There have been contributions from several WSI researchers such as Brigitte Unger, Daniel Seikel, Heiner Dribbusch, Philipp Klages, Karin Schulze-Buschoff, and Alfred Kleinknecht.
The WSI Summer School addresses students and doctoral students as well as young researchers from all social sciences (Economics, Law, Sociology, Political Science etc.). The WSI aims to have an international composition of participants.
Prof. Dr. Brigitte Unger, Academic Director WSI: Constructing a Social and Democratic Europe (pdf)
Prof. Dr. Alfred Kleinknecht, Senior Fellow WSI: The long march into financial instability (pdf)
Dr. Daniel Seikel, Head of Research Unit "European policies" at WSI: Institutional and Political Economic Obstacles to a Social Europe (pdf)
Dr. Philipp Klages, Editor WSI-Mitteilungen: The Sociology of Europeanization: Is there a European Society Emerging? (pdf)
PD Dr. Karin Schulze Buschoff, Head of Research Unit "Labour market policy" at WSI: Labour market policy in the EU and in the European member states (pdf)
Isabel Valdés Cifuentes, Researcher at Hamburg University: The Impact of State Measures on the Link between Precarious Employment and Social Relationships in Europe (pdf)
Dr. Heiner Dribbusch, Head of Research Unit "Trade Unions and collective bargaining policy" at WSI: Trade Unions in the EU: National Retreat or Mobilising for Social Europe? (pdf)
Sara Braun, Researcher at Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg: Transnational solidarity as a factor of the EU's system persistence (pdf)
Johannes Kiess, Researcher at Siegen University: German unions and business: what the crisis is about and how to solve it (pdf)
Max Lüggert, Researcher at Bonn University, The evolution of the ECB’s hybrid role in the wake of the crisis (pdf)
Francesco Laruffa, Doctoral student at Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences: The Capability Approach as a Normative Framework for Welfare Reform in Europe. The Case of Social Investment (pdf)
Dr. Daniel Seikel