Social Quality and the Future of the European Union

in European Journal of Social Quality
Restricted access

The subordination of social policy to economic policy has been a continuous theme in the postwar history of British social policy (Wootton, 1955; Titmuss, 1967; Townsend, 1975; Walker, 1984; Hill, 1996). This distorted relationship has consistently cast doubt upon the autonomy of social policy, which has attracted labels such as the 'poor person's economic policy' and the 'handmaiden' of economic policy. Looking beyond the parochial vagaries of British social policy it is clear that the same problem shackles social policy in other European countries and, especially, at the European level. Indeed it is becoming increasingly clear that unless something can be done to reconstitute the relationship between economic and social policy the European project itself will lose contact with the everyday concerns of citizens as it concentrates overly on economic and monetary union (EMU) and becomes primarily a 'Bankers' Europe'. Such concerns have been expressed by senior European policy makers but, so far, there is no sign of a strategy to overcome the problem.