Lecture: Forward to a Social Europe

Philippe Van Parijs

On March 1st, the Center for Contemporary Studies (CETC) opened the series of events on ‘The future of Europe’ with a lecture by Professor Philippe Van Parijs on moving forward to a Social Europe. The conference was hosted at the Office of the European Parliament in Barcelona and included a debate with Members of the EP Jordi Solé and Ramon Tremosa. Mireia Borell, the Catalan Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the European Union, was the moderator of the dialogue.

Friedrich August von Hayek (Viena, 1899), the Austrian economist, was the starting point of Van Parijs’ lecture. A proponent of a liberal multinational federation and one of the fathers of the neoliberalism, Hayek was the involuntary protagonist of the debate, serving both as a support to some ideas and, by contrast with his thought, a step from which argue for the need of moving forward to a Social Europe.

Van Parijs quoted Hayek on the utopic idea of a liberal multinational federation. The Belgian thinker turned around Hayek’s stands to rally for the need to move forward to a shared framework of social policies in the EU. Nowadays, at a moment when the future of the integration project is at stake, some say we should move back and renationalize competences. Van Parijs, on the contrary, argued for the establishment of EU institutions to go with the Single Market, despite the realization of a Welfare State in Europe being a no-go these days. According to Van Parijs, this would be the best way to ensure the four liberties connected to the common market; defending the free movement of goods, capital, services, and persons mean defending a Social Europe, as well.

At the debate, MEPs agreed on the lack of willingness in the current EU to deepen the political and social dimensions of the Unions. ‘I can’t hardly see any supports for ‘more Europe’. Most of the political parties and member states in the EU are against yielding more sovereignty to the EU and, hence, less integration’, Tremosa said.


Philippe Van Parijs

Philippe van Parijs is Professor at the Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences of the University of Louvain (UCL), where he has directed the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics since its creation, in 1991. Van Parijs is a founding member of the Basic Income European Networkand and he has authored books such as Real Freedom for All. What (if anything) can justify capitalism? (1995) and Basic income: a simple and powerful idea for the twenty-first century (2004). He is internationally recognized for being one of the proponents of the basic income and also for offering one of the first systematic treatments to language justice issues.

back to top