Thursday 2 March 2017

European political parties on social market economy

If the treaty based aim of the European Union is a highly competitive social market economy, how do the political parties at European level deal with this objective?

I skim a few documents with political principles from the main Europarties.

The 2012 manifesto of the European People’s Party (EPP) begins by presenting the values of the party, then concludes:

The only political system in which these values can thrive is in a pluralist democracy, in which citizens accept responsibility. The best economic concept to safeguard them is the Social Market Economy based on environmental sustainability in which competitiveness and entrepreneurial freedom are balanced with social justice. The appropriate framework for this is a strong European Union, which provides the best answers to the challenges of our times.

The 2011 declaration of principles of the Party of European Socialists (PES) does not mention the words ‘social market economy’, but the elements seem to be there:

A society based on our values means a new economy that embodies them. Values-driven growth, means that environmental sustainability, human dignity and well being are fundamental to wealth creation. This new economy must foster social progress that raises living standards, secures homes and creates jobs. The public sector plays an essential role in this new economy.

The election manifesto (2014) of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) offered classical liberal fare: to develop the single market, competitiveness and free trade in order to solve social challenges.

According to the Reykjavik declaration, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) is committed to the spread of free commerce and open competition, in Europe and globally.

Without using the words ‘social market economy’, the 2014 election manifesto of the European Green Party (EGP) emphasised a social Europe:

Europe must be built on a foundation of social justice and yet, for an increasing number of people, social hardship has become the reality. European Greens believe in policies that tackle growing levels of inequality and are adamant that there should be no second-rate citizens in the EU. It is therefore essential that social impacts such as inequality and poverty are taken into account.
The political document from the 2016 Party of the European Left congress (EL) rejects the liberal treaty aims and politics of the European Union, but the word ‘social’ crops up everywhere.


According to this rough outline of principles (not practical politics), the European People’s Party seems to the only main Europarty to tie itself to the mast of a social market economy.  

The Party of European Socialists and the European Green Party seem to prefer other terms to promote their vision of a social Europe.
Out of 751 MEPs, the EPP Group has 217, the S&D Group 189 and the Green Group 51 (457 MEPs in all).

ALDE (68) and ACRE (74) proclaim functioning internal and global markets, rejected by the European Left (52).

Ralf Grahn

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