Are social welfare states facing a race to the bottom? A theoretical perspective
Every step towards the completion of European integration appears to be met with renewed concern over its potential negative social side-effects, particularly as regards to protection against social risks (unemployment, sickness and invalidity, age,. . . ) and poverty. In the 1980s and 1990s, governments of different Member States as well as the two EU Commissions headed by Jacques Delors took seriously the menace of .beggar-thy-neighbour. policies by means of in- come or social security measures in an integrated market. The EMU may have provided an even greater temptation to do so because other economic policy instruments such as trade policy or monetary policy are kept under tight control. Since the end of the 1990s, there are indeed some signs that the welfare state is rolling back in core EU-member states such as Germany, the Netherlands and France. The fear of lower social protection levels and harsher labour conditions in a more integrated European Union are often cited as an explanation of the opposition against further economic integration in Europe
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