Protection, reform and political will: France and the European social model

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


Two successive presidents of the French republic placed social policy near the top of their priorities for European integration. Indeed, President François Mitterrand liked to claim paternity of the idea of ‘social Europe’, which he launched in 1981. Famously, he declared that Europe could not exist unless it were a ‘social’ Europe. Similarly, his successor Jacques Chirac claims responsibility for an upsurge of political interest in the ‘European social model’ (ESM), thanks to a memorandum he presented to the Lille summit of the G7 in March 1996. At the EU’s Stockholm summit in March 2001, Chirac even argued that social Europe was non-existent ‘until five years ago’; that is, the date of his Lille memorandum (EIS, 2001). In fact, French attempts to harmonise social regulations in Europe and more generally combat fiscal or social ‘dumping’ date back to 1956.1 Memories are short in politics, and it is true that much of the current debate around the European social model is strongly influenced by the late 1990s shift towards employment policy and the open method of coordination, and in particular by the policy paradigm ushered in by the Lisbon summit in March 2000.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrench Relations with the European Union
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780203613467
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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