SOCIAL SCOPES
     
Social sciences, such as sociology, economy, politics, communication and education, comprise academic disciplines concerned with the study of the social life of human groups and individuals. Society has become the object of an organized body of knowledge which can be standardized and taught objectively, while following its own rules and methodology.
 

politics

the internal market
is down, now there
is need for a social Europe

Is social Europe fit for globalization? 11-04-2008

Is a German exit of the Euro conceivable?
Risk of challenges to key values, leading to social chaos will run extremely high

Employment,
Social Affairs & Inclusion
GMB is unique in being one of the few British trade unions, and one of a handful of pioneer unions at European level Social Fairness and environment EU conference 24-02-09
(Intereconomics, 2012)

Emile Durkheim

 

counterculture

Economy, finance, business

solidarity and austerity

(political) ideologies beyond GDP

economy

Education
EU Commissioner Mr Lásló Andor for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion did speak at the event 'Social Europe after the Crisis'
 
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HOW FAR SHOULD WE PUSH GLOBALIZATION? (4 November 2016, Paul de Grauwe)

The discussions about CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, have focused almost exclusively on two questions. They are important but certainly not the most fundamental ones. In this article I first discuss these two questions and then turn to the more fundamental question of how far we should push globalisation.

The first question at the centre of the debate around CETA concerns the way national regulations on environment, safety and health are made consistent with each other. To make trade possible in a world where trading partners have different rules about the environment, health and safety, a procedure must be followed to make these rules mutually acceptable. When, for example, two countries wish to trade in poultry, they must agree on what constitutes a healthy chicken. The attitude of many opponents of CETA in Europe is that European regulation is superior to the Canadian (or American in the context of TTIP), and that as a result Canadian and American chicken are suspect, if not poisonous. The implicit hypothesis of this attitude is that European governments care more about the health and safety of their citizens than the Canadian and American governments do about their citizens.

Such an attitude makes trade agreements very difficult. Moreover, it is not based on facts. There is no reason to assume that European legislation of health, safety and the environment is superior to the North American one. If that were the case, the European regulators would long ago have curbed the harmful emissions of rigged European-made diesel cars. They did not, the US authorities did.

The second question at the forefront of the CETA negotiations had to do with the legal procedures to resolve disputes between foreign investors and national authorities. The CETA trade agreement, like many others, provides that foreign investors who feel harmed by new environmental, health, and safety regulations can turn to a special arbitration procedure. This is indeed a problem. It would be better to accept the jurisdiction of national courts in these matters, rather than to allow international investors to turn to special arbitration courts. The feeling in many countries that this is unacceptable discrimination mostly favouring multinational corporations should be respected. While it is preferable to rely on national courts to settle disputes, I have the impression that the opponents of CETA (and TTIP) have blown this problem out of proportion, even arguing that the ratification of these trade agreements would undermine the foundations of our democracy.

A more fundamental question that has not been sufficiently addressed in the discussions around CETA is: How far we should push globalisation?

In my academic career I have always been an advocate of free trade. Free trade provided the basis of the phenomenal material prosperity we have achieved in Europe in the post-war period. It has also made it possible for hundreds of millions of people, especially in Asia, to be pulled out of extreme poverty and to live a decent life.

But it now appears that globalisation is reaching its limits. These limits exist for two reasons. Firstly, there is the environmental limit. Globalisation leads to very strong forms of specialisation. There is of course nothing wrong with specialisation as it provides the conditions for creating more material welfare. But specialisation also means that goods are frequently transported around the globe. The lengthening of the value chains that has been made possible by the reduction of trade tariffs means that the same goods can travel back and forth between many countries before they reach the final consumer. All this transporting around the globe creates large environmental costs (e.g. CO2 emissions) that are not internalised in the price of the final product. As a result, the prices of these products are too low and too much of them is produced and consumed. Expressed differently, globalisation has made markets freer but these markets do not function properly, in that they give incentives to produce goods that harm the environment.

When the proponents of CETA (and TTIP) argue that trade agreements will lead to higher GDPs, they are right, but they forget to say that this will be accompanied by rising environmental costs. If we subtract the latter from the former, it is not certain that this leaves something positive.

The second downside to globalisation has to do with the highly unequal distribution of its costs and benefits. Free trade creates winners and losers. As argued earlier, there are many winners from globalisation in the world, the most important being the hundreds of millions who used to live in extreme poverty. There are also many winners in the industrialised countries, e.g. those who work for or are shareholders in exporting companies. But there are also many losers. The losers are the millions of workers, mostly in the industrialised countries, who have lost their jobs or have seen their wages decline. These are also the people that have to be convinced that free trade will ultimately be good for them and their children. Not an easy task. If, however, we fail to convince them, the social consensus that has existed in the industrialised world in favour of free trade and globalisation will deteriorate further.

The most effective way to convince the losers in the industrialised world that globalisation is good for them is to reinforce redistributive policies, i.e. policies that transfer income and wealth from the winners to the losers. But this is more easily said than done. The winners have many ways to influence the political process aiming at preventing this from happening. In fact, since the start of the 1980s when globalisation became intense, most industrialised countries have weakened redistributive policies. They have done this in two ways. First, they have lowered the top tax rates used in personal income tax systems. Second, they have weakened the social security systems by lowering unemployment payments, reducing job security and lowering minimum wages. All this was done in the name of structural reforms and was heavily promoted by the European authorities.

Thus, while globalisation went full speed ahead, industrialised countries reduced the redistributive and protective mechanisms that were set up in the past to help those who were hit by negative market forces. It is no surprise that these reactionary policies created many enemies of globalisation, who are now turning against the policy elites that set these policies in motion.

Let us now return to the question I formulated earlier: How far should we push globalisation? My answer is that as long as we do not keep in check the environmental costs generated by free trade agreements and as long as we do not compensate the losers of globalisation – or worse, continue to punish them for being losers – a moratorium on new free trade agreements should be announced. This is not an argument for a return to protectionism. It is an argument to stop the process of further trade liberalisation until we come to grips with the environmental costs and the harmful redistributive effects of free trade. This implies introducing more effective controls on CO2 emissions, raising the income tax rates of the top income levels and strengthening social security systems in the industrialised countries.

A SOCIAL EUROPE FIT FOR GLOBALISATION

In April 2008 the European Commission in cooperation with the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS, www.ceps.eu)organised a conference “A Social Europe Fit for Globalisation”. The event was related for a part to the Commission’s preparations for a renewed Social Agenda. How to accomodate a global dynamic as increased immigration for instance has become more prominent on the policy agenda and is now viewed as an urgent issues in many member states. The study on the social impact of globalisation informs that, although there are fears, social policy and the capacity and potentials of my family to maintain its commitments to solidarity is of rather solid nature. The key message is that the EU as a whole will gain from globalisation. However, Europa urges that the social impact of globalisation in the EU context has to be regularly analysed in relation between inequality, growth and poverty and its policy of existing rules ongoing readjusted to prevent “social dumping” and to maintain and stimulate increase social achievements.

According to the study, core of a social policy is in education, immigration policy, labour market and economic reforms and the re-shaping of social protection in order to rescue the existing social welfare systems, especially of public pension and health insurance schemes. It are keys for a succesful response of globalisation. Based on the study on the social impact of globalisation:

  • globalisation is more an opportunity than a menance

  • globalisation brings aggregate benefits ..........

  • ........ but there are undeniably adverse consequences

  • what are the core policy challenges?

  • Policy responses to globalisation may further increase uncertainties ......

  • ........ but can also favour the capacity to adjust

  • globalisation is not the only rationale for reinventing the welfare state .....

  • the European social model is not doomed!

However, “fear is justifiably so in 2008 at least for the 78 million Europeans who live on the brink of poverty” (2012: 110 million). Socialsolidarity refers to the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group. Social solidarity refers to the ties in a society - social relations - that bind people to one another