Keywords: European Social Union; Social Europe; Social Protection; Welfare; European Pillar of Social Rights; EU Citizenship; Solidarity.
The article starts from noting that the social deficit of the European Union has aggravated during the recent economic crisis, despite the ambitious social objectives included in the Lisbon Treaty. The balance between economic integration and the social dimension that EU Law and the case law of the CJEU have pursued during the years has been destabilized, generating new political and social conflicts. Faced with these alarming tendencies, scholars have recently put forward some interesting proposals, in particular the proposal for a European Social Union (ESU). For its proponents, this Union would not be a fully federal welfare State, but rather a closer union between national welfare systems better capable to sustain solidarity within each nation State while promoting new forms of transnational solidarity. The core of the essay illustrates this proposal. It clarifies the proposed core mission of the ESU as well as its internal organization. In particular, it discusses the role that the European Pillar of Social Rights and EU citizenship could play in it. Reflections are devoted also to the thorny question of how to strengthen pan-European solidarity. It concludes by outlining possible future scenarios.