From the late 19th century on, the major European powers made attempts to promote fair competition and combat social dumping at an international level. Governments soon agreed on the need for a social framework to achieve their objective. It was to consist of social conventions that had been tested in Western Europe, then at the cutting edge of labor issues, then exported to the rest of the world. The ILO, which can be seen as the culmination of these efforts, further developed thinking on such issues, particularly those related to Europe as a social entity. In fact, behind this space defined by social legislation that was shared by the European powers and extolled by members of the institution, hid a democratic, productivist model meant to protect the interests not only of workers, but also of employers. This article sets out to explore this model and its various stages of development, particularly as driven by the ILO, thereby seeking to shed light on the nature of “Social Europe”.
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