Social Europe: a progressive utopia or a bitter necessity?

At 19:30 CET on Wednesday the 25th May 2016, deBuren and Poliargus hosted a debate on the prospects of common European unemployment benefits and a union-wide minimum wage.

A full Dutch/Flemish recording of the evening can be found here and you can enjoy an English-language highlights video of the debate on this page.

Theme / Speakers / Location / Articles / Full recording / Video highlights

About the debate:

For a long time, “Social Europe” was little more than a requisite slogan in the manifestos of socialist parties. It never appeared to enjoy enough support to stand a chance of being implemented and therefore contemplating a more specific definition of the concept was deemed unnecessary.

However, since the financial crisis of 2007-08, some commentators have come to see social Europe as being less of a progressive utopia and more of a bitter necessity for the preservation of the EMU mouse tilt 20.

Two concrete proposals for a social Europe are a common European minimum wage and union-wide unemployment benefits. What do the current proposals look like and how are they perceived: are they desirable, necessary and/or feasible? And, what do people think of the ideas in the Low Countries, is there a comprehensive political vision and support for these proposals throughout the region or are the Dutch and the Belgian populaces on different wavelengths with regard to a “Social Europe”?

Although this debate has now finished, a full Dutch/Flemish recording of the evening can already be found here and an English-language highlights video is situated at the top of this page.


Siman Abdi – International Secretary of The Young Socialists in the – Dutch – PvdA

Anton Hemerijck – Professor of Institutional Policy Analysis at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universität

Frank Vandenbroucke – Flemish Academic and former Politician of the Socialistische Partij Anders

Tom Vrijens – President of the Youth Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)


Piet Depuydt – Finance and Economics Editor at De Tijd

Full recording:

A full length Dutch/Flemish-language recording of this debate can be found here and an English-language highlights video is being produced and will soon be uploaded to this page.

Event series:

This debate takes place with the support of the European Union’s Europe for Citizens Programme and is one debate of many taking place as part of an international series of debates on the same theme in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Bratislava, Brussels, London, Sofia and Warsaw.



Sociaal Europa. Progressieve utopie of bittere noodzaak?
Over het Europees minimumloon en de Europese werkloosheidsverzekering

Tegen 19:30 MET woensdag 25.05.16, in Leopoldstraat 6, Brussel. Discussie in het Nederlands.

Thema / SprekersArtikels / Volledige opname / Video highlights

Over de discussie:

Lang was ‘Sociaal Europa’ niet meer dan een verplichte tussentitel in de programma’s van socialistische partijen. Het leek nooit voldoende steun te genieten om een kans op uitvoering te maken, waardoor het onnodig was het concept scherper te definiëren. Sinds de crisis zien sommigen een sociaal Europa echter niet langer als progressieve utopie, maar als bittere noodzaak om de Europese muntunie duurzaam te maken.

Twee concrete voorstellen zijn het Europees minimumloon en de Europese werkloosheidsverzekering. Hoe zien deze instrumenten er uit en zijn ze wenselijk, noodzakelijk en/of haalbaar? Is er gezamenlijke politieke visie en steun voor deze voorstellen in de Lage Landen, of zitten Nederlanders en Belgen op een andere golflengte?


Siman Abdi – Internationaal Secretaris van de Jonge Socialisten in de – Nederlandse –  PvdA

Anton Hemerijck – Hoogleraar VU Amsterdam

Frank Vandenbroucke – Hoogleraar KU Leuven, Universiteit Antwerpen en Universiteit van Amsterdam, oud-SP.A-politicus

Tom Vrijens – Jongerenvoorzitter van de European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)


Piet Depuydt – Financieel-economisch Redacteur bij De Tijd


deBuren In samenwerking met Poliargus en Time to Talk en met steun van het Europe for Citizens programma van de Europese Unie.

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Location / Locatie:

Articles / Artikels:

General literature:

21st century European social investment imperatives by Anton Hemerijck

A European Social Union: 10 tough nuts to crack by Frank Vandenbroucke and Bart Vanhercke

A European Social Union: unduly idealistic or inevitable? by Frank Vandenbroucke

A new welfare architecture for Europe? by Gosta Esping-Andersen, Duncan Gallie, Anton Hemerijck, and John Myles

Defining the EU’s social objective is a necessity rather than a luxury by Frank Vandenbroucke

How to make EU social policy live up to its name by Catherine Barnard

La refonte des états-providence européens by Maurizio Ferrera , Anton Hemerijck and Martin Rhodes

Social inequalities in Europe: the challenges of convergence and cohesion by David Rinaldi and Frank Vandenbroucke

The case for a European Social Union. From muddling through to a sense of common purpose by Frank Vandenbroucke

The EU and social protection: what should the European Convention propose? by Frank Vandenbroucke

The EU needs a social investment pact by Anton Hemerijck, Bruno Palier and Frank Vandenbroucke

The European Social Union: a political necessity and an urgent research programme by Frank Vandenbroucke

The self-transformation of the European social model(s) by Anton Hemerijck

The Social Investment Package and the Europe 2020 Policy Agenda by Anton Hemerijck

Unequal Europe: a more caring agenda for the new Commission by Frank Vandenbroucke

Specifically on a European unemployment scheme:

A European unemployment benefits scheme: the rationale and the challenges ahead by Miroslav Beblavý, Gabriele Marconi and Ilaria Maselli

Designing a European unemployment insurance scheme by László Andor, Sebastian Dullien, Daniel Gros, H. Xavier Jara and Holly Sutherland

The case for a European unemployment benefit scheme by Ilaria Maselli and Miroslav Beblavý

Specifically on the EU and minimum wages:

A coordinated EU minimum wage policy? by Enrique Fernández-Macías and Carlos Vacas-Soriano

Contours of a European minimum wage policy by Thorsten Schulten

Juncker calls for minimum wage in all EU countries from

Minimum wage required in all EU countries by Ria Oomen-Ruijten

Plea for a European Minimum Wage from the European Network for Alternative Thinking and Political Dialogue

– The minimum wage: A motor for growth or a brake on the economy? by Cemal Karakas