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For example, in various speeches Commissioner Diamantopoulou maintains that the social dimension is an essential part of the Enlargement process. According to her: “The social dimension of the EU and the acquis in which it is expressed is an essential component: of building the institutions of democracy and civil society; of making markets work sustainably, and of creating the capacity for engagement in political, economic and monetary union.”84 The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, as I said above from the outset the EC/EU has had social as well as economic aims. Secondly, the evolution of the Community social policy (as exemplified by the developments in the Commission discourse on the social dimension shown in the previous section) has led to an alignment between economic, employment and social policies.
2 86 Anna Diamantopoulou, The European Social Model: Promoting Economic and Social Progress, SPEECH/01/212, 19.03.2001, p. 3 87 Anna Diamantopoulou, The European Employment Strategy and Social Model, SPEECH/01/29, 29.01.2001, p.6 88 Anna Diamantopoulou, The European Social Model and Enlargement, SPEECH/00/235, 23.06.2000, p. 4 199 well as adapt to a changing landscape... To secure all this, candidate countries need the European social model.” 89 There are two very important conclusions that can be drawn from these articulations. Firstly, during the Enlargement process, the social dimension should have been just as important as the other policy areas. In other words, the candidate countries should make the same efforts in this field as in the sphere of economy or democracy before the full EU membership becomes a fact. Secondly, presumably during the time of accession into the Union, the convergence with the old member states on the social issues should be at the same level as that of the other two areas enlisted above. In order to achieve this, during the process of Enlargement, some Commission documents summarise the main focus of the efforts as promoting education and training reform, tax-benefit reform, efforts to strengthen the employment services, social partnerships and social dialogue in the applicant countries.90 It is easy to spot the overlap between these priorities and the efforts for reforming the EU‟s social dimension itself. Therefore, overall, the rhetoric on the priorities for change in the old and new member states are broadly in line with each other.
Hence, the overall result of the Enlargement process in the social sphere is expected to be the gradual inclusion of the applicant countries into the ESM, which should more or less be accomplished before full membership becomes a fact. This means that the new member states will become part of the organisation of social life in the EU, thus the border that used to separate the Western and Eastern European societies will no longer be relevant. In this way the rhetoric of the European Commission on this specific aspect of the social dimension again provides evidence that it promotes the undermining of existing internal borders and leads to de-bordering and the creation of a common space this time encompassing old and new member states.
However, it is highly debatable whether the EU institutions, including the Commission were indeed successful in accomplishing this aim of including the new member states into the ESM. As I will demonstrate in the section on the construction of internal borders by the discourse of the Commission there is another way of interpreting 89 Ibid.
90 These are based on Anna Diamantopoulou, The European Employment Strategy and Social Model, SPEECH/01/29, 29.01.2001, pp. 4-5 200 how its discourse configures borders in the EU. Before I do this, I will analyse the construction of the external borders of the EU by the social policy discourse of the European Commission.
5.4. The Construction of the EU’s External Border through Articulations of the “Self” and the “Other” in Commission Discourse on the Social Dimension As we have seen in the previous part, the articulations on the EMoS and the ESM promote the emergence of a new identity as a result of the undermining of the borders in the social field between the member states. Nevertheless, a reading of the same documents also displays an opposite trend in the Commission discourse on social policy. As in the previous chapters, internal decrease in the significance of EU borders is inevitably accompanied by the emergence of new dividing lines at the outer edges of the EU. Given that the Commission articulations in the field of social policy configure overwhelmingly identity borders, the construction of the external EU border is a result of the articulation of “Others”. So, in order to be able to demarcate the external borders inscribed in the discourse on the EMoS and the ESM, I demonstrate which are the Self and the Others emerging from the documents of the Commission. This will help me to “locate” the border configured through articulating what belongs to the European Models and what does not.
As I explained in Chapter Two, from a discourse theoretical perspective, the construction of the “Other” is crucial because it constitutes the binary opposition on which knowledge is constructed. For the purposes of this research, the “Othering” articulations are indispensable for analysing construction of the EU‟s external (as well as internal) border because it is through them that it becomes evident what does not belong to the EMoS/ ESM. By defining what is outside, the external Union border is drawn and the identity of the „inside‟ is further clarified. There are two main types of “Others” emerging from the European Commission social policy discourse. On the one hand these are other (economic) world leaders, countries such as Japan and the United States (US). On the other hand, these are the relatively newly booming economies, such as the Asia-Pacific or China. According to the articulations of the European Commission both types of “Others” are organised on 201 different social principles than the EC/EU. The analysis of which social principles are emphasised by the Commission articulations will also contribute to further (indirect) definition of the Self, thus showing how the EC/EU‟s external border is constructed.
The first main “Other”91 emerging from the Commission discourse on social policy are the relatively newly booming economies of the Asia-Pacific and China. After the signing of the SEA, their articulation as the “Other” is most clearly identified in the beginning of the 1990s. The references to them in the Commission discourse single them out as posing a threat to the economy of the EU. For example, in 1993 Commissioner Flynn refers to low wage economies as one of the main challenges the Union faces: “… there is the huge shift in global comparative advantage away from the high wage producers towards the lower wage economies of the Pacific Rim and elsewhere …” 92 More recently, similar concerns are represented through references to globalisation, which is identified as one of the major challenges to EU competitiveness in the 21st century. 93 This shift to a reference to globalisation can be partially attributed to the fact that in recent years the lower wages of the new EU member states have been an issue of significant debate. As my analysis of the Commission discourse on free movement of people from the “new” member states in Chapter Four shows, this in itself is also an issue that leads to important configurations of borders in the EU.
The Commission references to globalisation as a challenge can be illustrated with the following statement: “… competitiveness must be increased in order to meet the challenge of globalization which … is … prompting a massive increase in the supply of labour. We all know that we cannot compete with the emerging economies on labour costs.”94 The last sentence indicates that the EU acknowledges that it is not in a position to 91 The numbering of the two main “Others” emerging from the Commission discourse on social policy is not done according to any particular principle, such as their importance, time of articulation, etc. I have used the words “first” and “second” only to enumerate and distinguish between the two.
92 Padraig Flynn, Speech at the Irish Management Institute Conference, SPEECH/93/45, 30.04.1993, p. 2. For acknowledgement of the problem of low wage economies see also Sir Leon Brittan, Improving Social Rights Worldwide – the European Union‟s Contribution, SPEECH/94/28, 29.03.1994, p. 3 93 For references to globalisation as one of the major challenges to competitiveness see Vladimir Špidla, Closing Speech on Poverty and Social Exclusion, SPEECH/06/609, 17.10.2006, p. 2 and Vladimir Špidla, A European Economic and Social Model for the 21st Century, SPEECH/07/253, 25.04.2007, p. 2 94 Vladimir Špidla, Boosting Productivity and Creating Better Jobs, SPEECH/06/598, 16.10.2006, p. 2 (emphasis in the original) 202 compete with these countries in terms of labour costs and has identified as a way forward increasing its own productivity instead. For example, in 1993 Padraig Flynn argued: “When examining the reasons for our decline in competitiveness, I think it is important not to fall into the trap of focusing purely on comparative labour costs or issues of social protection … Let‟s be honest about this. There is no way we can compete with the Pacific Rim by lowering wages and reducing levels of social protection to standards reminiscent of the 19 th century. This is not only not possible but it is not desirable. The difference in hourly wage levels between Germany and China is 25 to 1. We should not feel threatened by this … But it does mean that we have to adapt and learn to stay ahead of the competition by other means, especially by focusing on that real test of competitiveness – productivity.”95 The ways for achieving this is through Research and Development, improvement of management skills and investment in skills training.96 Twelve years later, there are no real changes in the way the appropriate responses are articulated in Commission documents: “… the competitive threat to Europe does not simply stem from bringing into productive use a huge pool of hitherto unskilled, untapped rural labour. That ignores the huge strides forward that the Chinese, Indians and others are making in education and R&D. That makes new competition more broad based with even more implications. Yes, we now face a huge competitive challenge in labour intensive industries … but in future, in every sector, we will face strong competition unless we manage to keep a lead in research and innovation.”97 The important change manifested in this passage is the expectation that in future all sectors of the EU‟s economy are likely to face fierce economic competition if the Union does not manage to adequately address the challenge through maintaining high levels of productivity.
Thus, these articulations of low wage economies construct them as the “Other” because they unequivocally convey the message that these countries are posing a threat to the economic performance of the EU. Hence, they are putting at risk the well-being of the Union‟s citizens and business. Also, these articulations have important moral connotations.
They convey the message that endorsing the social standards of the above countries is 95 Padraig Flynn, The Challenges Facing the Community on Employment, SPEECH/93/86, 09.07.1993, p. 2 96 Identified in ibid.
97 Peter Mandelson, A Modern Social Agenda for Europe, SPEECH/05/381, 23.06.2005, p. 3 203 totally unacceptable because it represents a backward move that will wipe out significant achievements of the EU societies. These articulations inevitably contribute to the establishment of a perception that these countries are rivals to the EU and have a social organisation inferior to that of the EU, which in turn constructs a border between them and the Union – an external border for the latter. In summary, the main way the discourse of the Commission constructs low wage economies as the “Other” is through explicit references to threat and the suggestion of moral superiority for the EMoS/ ESM. Furthermore, as I explain in greater detail below, these articulations also promote the identity of the EU as a highly productive economy. These are somewhat different from the emphasis in the discourse constructing world economic leaders as the “Other”.
The latter are the second main “Other” emerging from the Commission social policy discourse. The most numerous references in the last 20 years are to the US, followed by Japan. As early as 1986 Commission President Delors argued that the economic difficulties in the Community – slow growth, widespread unemployment, and aging population are: “constantly being compared with the much more successful performance of the United States and Japan over recent years.”98 Further evidence for this is the continuous comparison of various macroeconomic performance indicators of the US and Japan with these of the EC/EU.99 Thus, there is a clear line of continuation in the discourse of the Commission since the SEA.
However, there is one important “Other” that has disappeared from the discourse.