EU and Social Dimension of Globalization


This international research project concerns the role of the European Union in relation to the social dimension of globalization and, more specifically, the potential contribution of the EU in this area through its external policies. In recent years, EU policy-makers have highlighted their intention to contribute to the social dimension of globalization. Although the Union potentially plays a unique and powerful role in this area, this topic has been neglected in the academic literature and in the political debate on Europe’s world role.

The project's basic research questions involve:

  • assessing the power of the EU in international social affairs (e.g. compared with the member states; e.g. through its trade and development policies),
  • considering its commitment to social goals in the world (e.g. compared with other policy objectives)
  • identifying the extent to which the EU behaves as a multilateral actor in social affairs (e.g. within the International Labour Organisation).

An exploratory workshop on the subject was held in Lisbon (March 2007), for which proceedings are available, and a working paper. In November 2007, a series of events funded by the European Commission Jean Monnet programme was organized in Ghent. It involved a Debate and Open Forum (see transcripts) on the EU's role in the social dimension of globalization, as well as an academic roundtable which focussed specifically on European Union trade policies.

A book on ‘The European Union’s role in the social dimension of globalization’ was published in December 2008 (Routledge). In the Journal of European Social Policy (19, 2, 2009) we edited a symposium section on 'Europe's global social role'. The European Foreign Affairs Review (14, 4, 2009) will publish a special issue that deals specifically with the social dimension of EU trade policies.