European Integration and Social Convergence: A Qualitative Appraisal
Although with the Maastricht Treaty, European construction took a remarkable step forward, the robust pillar of the single currency started to shake the other one: the social welfare systems. The main goal of this contribution is to study the evolution of Social Protection in Europe by questioning the existence of a convergence between the different social welfare systems and the impact of the Treaty of Maastricht on this process. The evolution of the social protection concept in Europe, the reforms implemented in the most important domains of social protection: pensions, health and employment are analyzed. A common philosophy clearly appears. The welfare State is receding, calling more and more upon market mechanisms. Furthermore, the traditional binary typology is changing and countries are becoming more similar in their financing methods. We can thus say that a process of social convergence seems well and truly underway in the European Union.
Key words: Welfare-state, Social welfare, Convergence, European Union.
JEL: H53, O52, I38.