Call for Papers: Social Europe and European Economic and Monetary Union: Contradiction in Terms or Missed Opportunities? 1957-1992 

European University Institute, Florence, 25-26 May 2023

The interrelation between ‘Social Europe’ and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is a longstanding issue of debate. The impact of austerity policies adopted in response to the crisis of the Eurozone in the 2010s on welfare systems, wages, employment levels and public services indicate that monetary union and social policies may be antithetical (Crespy and Menz 2015). Conversely, trade unions in the run-up to the Maastricht Treaty perceived the making of EMU as an opportunity (Ramirez Perez 2021). Whether contradictory or complementary, an imbalance exists in the making of ‘Social Europe’ and monetary union prior to Maastricht, with the latter being more advanced than the former. 

The aim of this conference is to explore the interrelation between Social Europe and monetary union. We understand ‘Social Europe’ in broad terms as all policies and initiatives focusing on the social dimension of European integration including but not limited to tripartite relations, social legislation, social benefits, economic democracy, democracy in the workplace, workers’ representation, protection of and support for particularly vulnerable societal groups, and socio-politically induced financial transfers across member states.

There are lively debates in the political science literature about the (in)adequacy of EU social policies (Crespy 2019, Dévoluy and Koenig 2011) and the effect of European economic governance over social welfare. Similarly, the historiography of ‘Social Europe’ is a very dynamic field (Coppolaro and Mechi 2020; Roos 2021; Mechi, Petrini, and Del Biondo 2010; Andry 2022). What this conference intends to focus on is the specific relation of Social Europe with EMU. To what extent was Social Europe part of the EMU project? What role did EMU play in different Community-level actors’ pursuit of advancing Social Europe? Would a more advanced Social Europe allow for a more functional EMU, and vice-versa? 

Topics of papers presented at the conference may include, but are not limited to:

  • Proposals and initiatives to develop social ‘harmonisation’, common social policies and programmes, social legislation or European-level collective agreements, as a condition or as a means to improve the realisation of EMU
  • Attempts to embed socio-political initiatives in a larger EMU context, e.g. in pursuit of finding/creating a treaty basis for more comprehensive social activity at Community level
  • The question of redistribution in a monetary union context
  • Debates connecting the two areas of Social Europe and EMU, such as the debate over the creation of a European unemployment benefit, or Community-wide social and health insurance schemes
  • Legislative proposals coming from transnational political networks including political fractions in the European Parliament or transnational European parties
  • The influence of schools of economic thought on the reflection on the relationship between social policy and monetary union
  • The role of academics and experts — in particular economists, lawyers, and social scientists—in conceptualizing and informing the interaction between social policy and EMU
  • Non-state actors (political parties, businesses, trade unions) and their conception of the importance and role of social policy in monetary union frameworks.

The conference focuses on a period running from the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957 until the decision to create an EMU and the extension of EU sociopolitical competences with the Treaty of Maastricht and the Social Policy Protocol of 1992. Contributions can focus on shorter, more specific periods, or span this entire time frame. Proposals may also deal with pre-1957 events and debates on European economic and monetary cooperation that contribute to shed light on the later period, or offer an outlook on how events and developments within the stipulated timeframe of 1957-1992 shaped the later evolution of EMU and Social Europe. We welcome different methodological approaches in dealing with the theme of the conference, including but not limited to biography, prosopography, text mining and network analysis. The conference finally encourages a conversation between different historiographical traditions, including the history of ideas, social history and economic history.

The conference will take place on 25-26 May 2023 at the European University Institute in Florence.

Eligibility and how to apply:

PhD students, early career researchers, and established researchers are invited to submit proposals.

Applicants should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words outlining their proposal, and a short CV by 15March 2023 to EURECON Project’s Administrator Miriam Curci,, mentioning ‘Social Europe and EMU Conference’ in the headline. Selected applicants will be informed by late March 2022.

Please note that should your institution be unable to do so, conference funds are available to support your accommodation and travel expenses. 

For further information please contact the EURECON Project’s Administrator Miriam Curci,  

Scientific committee

Professor Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol (European University Institute)

Dr Sigfrido Ramírez Pérez (European Parliament History Service)

Dr Mechthild Roos (Augsburg University)


The conference is funded by the ERC-funded research project EURECON: The Making of a Lopsided Union: Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992(grant agreement No 716849).


Andry, Aurélie D. 2022. Social Europe, the Road Not Taken: The Left and European Integration in the Long 1970s. Oxford Studies in Modern European History. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Coppolaro, Lucia, and Lorenzo Mechi, eds. 2020. Free Trade and Social Welfare in Europe: Explorations in the Long 20th Century. Abingdon: Routledge.

Crespy, Amandine. 2019. L’Europe Sociale. Acteurs, Politiques, Débats. Bruxelles: Editions de l’Université libre de Bruxelles.

Crespy, Amandine, and Georg Menz, eds. 2015. Social Policy and the Euro Crisis. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Dévoluy, Michel and Koenig, Gilbert. 2011. L’Europe économique et sociale: singularités, doutes et perspectives. Strasbourg: Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg

Mechi, Lorenzo, Francesco Petrini, and Ilaria Del Biondo, eds. 2010. Fra mercato comune e globalizzazione. Le forze sociali europee e la fine dell’età dell’oro. Milano: Franco Angeli.

Ramirez Perez, Sigfrido. 2021. ‘European Trade Unions from the Single European Act to Maastricht: 1985-1992’. Studi Storici, 211–45.

Roos, Mechthild. 2021. The Parliamentary Roots of European Social Policy: Turning Talk into Power. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Comments are closed.