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Social Europe


Admission requirements

Registration for the Minor European Union Studies or admission to the pre-master European Union Studies.


The impact of European integration on national welfare states has become a controversial topic in recent decades, sparking criticisms that the European Union is a ‘neoliberal’ project undermining welfare. This course takes a historical and political-economy approach to trace the evolving relationship between the welfare state and European integration up to our present, including the impact of globalization on welfare policies. Further, we compare social policy fields of EU member states, in fields such as unemployment, gender and antidiscrimination policy, social inclusion, pensions, migration, and healthcare. The course culminates by examining recent initiatives to build ‘Social Europe’ in the 2010s-2020s, including the 2017 Gothenburg Social Summit and 2021 Porto Summit, the role of social policy in the European Semester, and the wide-ranging social policy responses in Europe to the Covid pandemic in 2020-2022.

Course objectives

  • To provide students a comparative overview of national social systems and the core features of modern welfare policies in Europe

  • To provide students an overview of the debate on the relationship between European integration and national welfare systems

  • To consider together in class discussions and in a written assignment the state of welfare in Europe.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Weighing and assessment

20%: Class attendance and participation
20%: Presentation comparing a social policy field of two European countries
20%: A short paper comparing a social policy field of two European countries
40%: A written reflection on welfare and European integration including policy recommendations


A resit is possible only for the written papers. Resit instructions to be announced.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A complete list will be provided in class but will include writings (and audio lectures) by prominent voices in public discussions today, including Thomas Piketty.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


All other information.