Resc-EU Reconciling Economic and Social Europe: the role of ideas, values and politics [http://www.resceu.eu] is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and aimed at investigating the unresolved tensions between the nation based welfare state and the European Union. It seems that such an investigation is particularly salient and urgent because of the crisis, which has not only highly exacerbated conflicts within the EU, but also had an impact on the integration process among the members of the Union in the activation of new clashes.
In this sense, the core questions the project aims at tackling concern the possibility of reconciling the nation based welfare state and the European Union and the evolution of the European integration process in general.
The project focuses on four distinct lines of conflicts picking out different and complex policy dilemmas, political turbulence and representing sources of erosion of popular legitimacy for the EU:
- the conflict aroundmarket-making and market-correcting policiesat the level of supranational institutions;
- the conflict around EU jurisdiction/powers on one hand, and jurisdiction/sovereignty of national governments on the other, in particular with respect to fiscal and social policies;
- the conflict between countries/systems characterized by generous welfare/high tax burden (West) and countries/systems characterized by poor welfare/low taxation (East);
- the conflict between "core" countries and "peripheral" countries on the size and mechanisms of financial solidarity.
The theoretical perspective in which the project is framed is neo Weberian in character, focusing on the intellectual and political dynamics surrounding both the welfare state building and the European Union building. From this point of view, the project aims at reaching new understandings and making advancements in three different areas: theoretical, empirical, and evaluative.
With regards to theorization, the goal is to put forward a new conceptualization and theorization of the political and intellectual dimensions of EU-building by shifting the attention from the socio-economic aspects, which are now prominent in debates about the EU, to politico-symbolic. In particular, the attention is cast on complex relations, i.e. structural logics vs. individual agency, path dependence vs. historical contingency, rationalist and interest-based strategies vs. norm-based or epistemic strategies and interactions.
With regards to the empirical part, the project aims at collecting factual knowledge for the use of other scholars, and more generally informed public. To tackle this issue, a free-standing observatory called “Euvisions“ will be established. Such an observatory’s task is to accurately map both the EU intellectual and political spheres. In particular, the focus on the intellectual sphere is original for there is not a shared understanding about the intellectual contents and ideologies that are promoted to support (or contrast) the EU-building process.
With regards to the policy evaluation, the project aims at generating broad evolutionary scenarios and formulating event/deadline/problem specific policy diagnosis and recommendations for fostering the process of social integration within the European Union.