Inroads to Social Inclusion in Europe’s Social Market Economy: The case of state aid supporting employment of workers with disabilities
Title: Inroads to Social Inclusion in Europe’s Social Market Economy: The case of state aid supporting employment of workers with disabilities
Citation: European Journal of Legal Studies, 2011, 4, 2, 44-73
Since the 1990s if not earlier, the asymmetry in the European Community/European Union between market-making free trade rules and distributive mechanisms sometimes known as ‘the social’ has been perceived by many as at least a potential factor contributing to a legitimacy crisis in European integration. There are no easy solutions to this state of affairs, but the European Union can take small steps toward an enhanced equilibrium. A small but potentially important step was taken in the Lisbon version of the Treaty on European Union, when the notion of a ‘social market economy’ was explicitly embraced. But what do these alluring words mean? They are left formally undefined and they have been freed, we submit, from their historical and conceptual moorings. It is up to European practice and scholarship to determine whether and how the idea will take on a life of its own in its new context. In this paper we consider a narrow but not insignificant policy field that suggests itself as a possible example of Europe’s social market economy principle in action, namely, the use of state aid rules to encourage Member States to support the hiring and accommodation of persons with disabilities. In exploring the legal norms and policy in this area, we put forward some tentative suggestions about how the idea of a social market economy for Europe might be framed as the EU passes through the next phase of the integration project.
Type of Access: openAccess