DP1114 | Trade Liberalization and the Harmonization of Social Policies: Lessons from European Integration


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The paper analyses the debate on the relationship between trade liberalization and the harmonization of social policies in the context of European integration. It is divided into two parts. The first shows that harmonization of social policies was not imposed in the 1960s and 1970s as a pre-condition for trade liberalization inside the Community mainly due to favourable economic conditions. The second part examines the demand for and the actual measures in favour of harmonizing social policies which have increasingly occurred in the Community since the mid-1970s. It is contended that this new regime corresponds to greater heterogeneity and slower growth inside the Community. Renewed efforts to liberalize intra-EC trade in the mid-1980s also played a significant part in the shift towards harmonization.