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Since the 1970s, the role of the European Union in social affairs has consistently, but cautiously, been expanded. While it was widely accepted in the early decades of the EC/EU that social policy was secondary to the Union’s economic objectives, the achievements of the Social Action Programme in the 1970s, and the arrival of Jacques Delors in the mid-1980s as Commission President, moved the social dimension up the Brussels agenda and introduced the concept of a European Social Model.

In this paper, which is part of the Future of the EU27 Project, IIEA Senior Fellow Tony Brown takes a look at the current developments of the social dimension of the European Union, including the European Commission’s Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe, and the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was proclaimed at a summit of EU leaders in Gothenburg on 17 November 2018.

While focusing in particular on the implications and options for Ireland, this paper examines two key questions for European social policy: “What challenges should our countries tackle together?” and “What added value can EU level instruments provide in this struggle?”

Download the paper here.

This paper has been published as part of the IIEA’s Future of the EU27 Project, which is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.