Law Expert to Discuss Effects of Crises and U.S. in Demise of European Union’s Social Rights

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Keith Ewing, an internationally recognized expert on labor law and constitutional law, will discuss how U.S. opposition to social and economic rights play a role in the undoing of the social welfare state in Europe in "The Death of Social Europe" from noon to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, in the Marjorie and Ralph Knowles Conference Center at Georgia State University College of Law.

Keith Ewing, an internationally recognized expert on labor law and constitutional law, will discuss how U.S. opposition to social and economic rights play a role in the undoing of the social welfare state in Europe in "The Death of Social Europe" from noon to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, in the Marjorie and Ralph Knowles Conference Center at Georgia State University College of Law.

"Europe has yet to recover from the global financial crisis beginning in 2008 and the currency collapse beginning in 2010, with major countries continuing to post, at best, very slow rates of economic growth,” said Ewing, professor of public law and constitutional law at Georgia State.

Europe also is experiencing political chaos, fuelled by the upcoming British referendum on exit from the European Union (EU), which creates a risk of “contagion” as other countries contemplate following suit, he said.

Political difficulties arise from the migration and refugee crisis, with more than one million people so far having fled Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to new “Iron Curtains” along Europe’s borders. In addition, the continuing crisis of international terrorism, particularly in Paris, creates even more challenges.

The European Union’s form of capitalism differs from the United States, which might be said in principle to be committed to social democracy rather than liberal democracy, and to social market capitalism rather than free market capitalism, Ewing said. The EU also has different constitutional values than the U.S.

“There is a sharp contrast between the U.S. Bill of Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,” Ewing said. “The richness of the latter—giving equal status to social rights—reflects the post-war experience of EU member states.”

Ewing will discuss what it means for Europe’s relationship with the United States, at a time when a free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is being negotiated in secret to complement the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“How far will TTIP further undermine the social democracy and the social market capitalism of the EU?” he asked. “Will the U.S. economic and political model inevitably prevail, or can Social Europe confound expectations and survive what looks like a terminal condition? If so, what will be the price of free trade for the U.S. and U.S. corporations when dealing with a large social market economy?”    

Ewing has written extensively on human rights and election law issues. Publications include “The Death of Social Europe” in King's Law Journal; Labour Law (Oxford University Press, 2012, with Collins and McColgan) and
“What is the Point of Human Rights Law?” in Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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Leah Seupersad
Georgia State University
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