Social Europe towards its enlargement

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This paper examines how the EU deals with social issues connected to enlargement. It emphasises its exclusively juridical perception and the absence of public and political debate, and how this very much restrained the possibility of re-negotiating a new social arrangement within the EU on the occasion of eastern European countries’ adhesion. Such a silence on the social dimension of European enlargement finds an explanation principally in the manner with which European social institutions gave a setting and an orientation to the treatment of the issue. This research hereby takes up a neo-institutionalist approach : it discusses how legal dispositions which embody EU’s social policy weighted on the way the issue of adhesion was interpreted, how power relations between the various actors were created, and available instruments and places of debates were curtailed, and finally how these institutions thus « protected » themselves from reform. –Summary AFRI-2003