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Trade Liberalization and the Harmonization of Social Policies: Lessons from European Integration


  • Sapir, André


The paper analyses the debate on the relationship between trade liberalization and the harmonization of social policies in the context of European integration. It is divided into two parts. The first shows that harmonization of social policies was not imposed in the 1960s and 1970s as a pre-condition for trade liberalization inside the Community mainly due to favourable economic conditions. The second part examines the demand for and the actual measures in favour of harmonizing social policies which have increasingly occurred in the Community since the mid-1970s. It is contended that this new regime corresponds to greater heterogeneity and slower growth inside the Community. Renewed efforts to liberalize intra-EC trade in the mid-1980s also played a significant part in the shift towards harmonization.

Suggested Citation

  • Sapir, André, 1995. "Trade Liberalization and the Harmonization of Social Policies: Lessons from European Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 1114, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1114

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    Cited by:

    1. Kym Anderson, 1997. "Social Policy Dimensions of Economic Integration: Environmental and Labor Standards," NBER Chapters,in: Regionalism versus Multilateral Trade Arrangements, NBER-EASE Volume 6, pages 57-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Giandomenico Majone, 2002. "International Economic Integration, National Autonomy, Transnational Democracy: An Impossible Trinity?," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 48, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    3. L Alan Winters, 2015. "The WTO and Regional Trading Agreements: Is it all over for Multilateralism?," RSCAS Working Papers 2015/94, European University Institute.

    More about this item


    EC; Regional Integration; Social Policies;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy


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