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Ann-Cathrine Jungar

This chapter asks whether Europe’s right-wing populist parties pose a threat to freedom of movement and to the Union’s fundamental values. The analysis shows that right-wing populist parties contribute to a better congruence of opinion between voters and parties in European party systems: as a result of their presence, the diverse preferences of voters on questions of immigration and the Union are reflected more fully. The author concludes from this that these parties have come into being and grown because there is a demand among certain groups of voters for their critical line on immigration and the EU. The chapter thus contends that right-wing populist parties put forward pertinent questions about the legitimacy of the EU, as well as about the limits of national, European, and global solidarity in the distribution of economic and social resources. The challenge for the established parties is to formulate answers to the questions that supporters of the right-wing populist parties ask.

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Martin Ljunge

This chapter examines how social trust gets conveyed across generations. By studying children of immigrants, the author traces how social trust is conveyed within the family. The analysis shows that children born to mothers from high-trust countries themselves show greater trust than do children born to mothers from low-trust countries. Children of mothers from high-trust countries also enjoy better health than do those whose mothers hail from low-trust ones. Furthermore, the results indicate that trust is a factor behind persistent differences in health and wealth between individuals and between countries. The author concludes that the EU and its member states can work actively to increase trust among citizens, and thus to reduce the long-term prosperity gap within and between EU countries.

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Lars Magnusson and Sofia Murhem

This chapter reviews how the Social Dialogue between unions and employers has evolved at the EU level, and asks whether it has a role to play in bridging the growing prosperity gap between the member states. The analysis shows that the Social Dialogue has diminished in importance over the past twenty years. The authors see several reasons to put a stop to this trend. Over the long run, they contend, a strong Social Dialogue can increase citizen support for the Union and strengthen its legitimacy. Through central agreements between the social partners, the European industry and labour market can develop in a way that benefits both sides. Thus the authors conclude that policy-makers ought to promote the Social Dialogue, as an important tool for reducing the prosperity gap between the member states, enhancing the legitimacy of the EU as a whole, encouraging labour mobility, and combatting xenophobia.

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Anna-Sara Lind

This chapter describes how the social rights which, according to the treaties, EU citizens possess, find expression in a Union which is suffering not just from an economic crisis, but from a crisis of confidence as well. The author argues that the confidence crisis itself puts limits on the prospects for realizing these rights, and undermines the solidarity between member states articulated in the Union’s basic treaties. The analysis in the chapter makes clear that the member states have taken a cautious line on the question of European social rights. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found this to be a tricky and difficult area, and has hesitated to enter it. It is therefore crucial, the author contends, that the member states themselves take the next step. Within a framework of mutual cooperation, they must actively interpret and utilize the basic rules which have a bearing on social rights.

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Jenny Julén Votinius

This chapter addresses the differences in prosperity and well-being that follow from the high levels of youth unemployment in the EU. Not only do the member states that were hardest hit by the economic crisis have the highest levels of youth unemployment; equally important is the rapidly widening prosperity gap between generations in Europe’s labour market. The author reviews the many EU-level initiatives taken to combat youth unemployment following the crisis. Her analysis underlines the risks involved in adopting legislative reforms that weaken employment protection specifically for young employees. Reforms of this kind have worsened the prosperity gap between generations, since they mean that younger employees receive lower salaries and enjoy less job security than their older counterparts. Against this background, the author argues, it is essential that fundamental social rights are observed in relation to all citizens, including young persons in the EU’s workforce.

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Melissa K. Scanlan

The current global economic system, which is fueled by externalizing environmental costs, growing exponentially, consuming more, and a widening wealth gap between rich and poor, is misaligned to meet the climate imperative to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). Amidst this system breakdown as we reach the end of the Industrial Age, the new economy movement has emerged to provide an alternative approach where ecological balance, wealth equity, and vibrant democracy are central to economic activity. Laws are the fundamental infrastructure that undergirds our economic and political system. Environmental law is typically conceived as a set of rules that establish pollutant limits for specific waterbodies, protect an identified species, or direct an industry to use a required technology. Although necessary, these types of law do not address the fundamentals of our political economy, and the most dramatic failure of environmental law is seen in increasing amounts of GHGs and global climate disruption. In order to develop a new economic system that is aligned with a climate and economic justice imperative, we need laws that will facilitate the new system and discourage the old. This chapter discusses systems thinking and systems change, highlighting leverage points to achieve change. It gives an overview of the new economy movement that has emerged to provide a new narrative, and using a systems lens, identifies areas where the law needs to evolve to facilitate building a more sustainable, equitable, and democratic future.

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Diana R. H. Winters

The regulation of food in the United States is exceedingly complex. Local, state, and federal regulation coexist, and common law remedies supplement positive law. Strata of regulation are necessary because patterns of production and consumption vary by region and demographic, while federal regulation provides regulatory uniformity across the United States. A system that permits decentralized policymaking, such as the American one, can be a leverage point for change. Recently, several state and local governments in the United States passed laws to address gaps in and perceived problems with federal food policy. Despite, or perhaps because of, their transformative potential, these state and local actions on food policy raise questions about where lies the proper balance between the uniformity and predictability of a national system and the flexibility and responsiveness of local regulation. This chapter discusses some of the problems with the food systems of the United States and the repercussions of these failures, and then explores several more local solutions by looking at this recent state legislation. These laws include a Vermont law mandating the labeling of genetically engineered ingredients, a California law regulating the use of medically important antibiotics in animal feed, the strictest in the country, and several California humane treatment laws. There have been legal challenges to some of these laws in areas where these state actions encroach upon another regulatory authority, whether that of another state or of the federal government. These areas of tension highlight questions about the decentralization of food policy in the United States, including who gets to make policy decisions and the content of these decisions, but these spaces of conflict can also be sources of productivity for the development of food policy. While focused on the United States, the interaction between national and subnational regulatory units in the field of food policy is a matter of relevance to the global community.

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Kevin B. Jones and Mark James

Solar power is booming across the US, as PV panel costs fall and interest in clean and distributed energy grows. In Vermont, net-metered solar electric generation has grown dramatically over the last seven years due to state and federal policies incentivizing net metering. At the state level, Vermont established group net metering policies creating a stable source of revenue that its banks and credit unions have relied on to approve financing to purchase solar projects. The federal residential investment tax credit (ITC), providing a 30 percent credit for Solar PV generation, further supports solar ownership. While solar ownership has grown, some policymakers and advocates are concerned that the benefits of net-metered solar are not fairly distributed throughout the economy. This chapter explores trends in renewable energy development and how clean distributed energy may disrupt the current utility model. The chapter also explores current state and federal policies for solar development and how they can be used to promote meaningful community ownership: a model that supports the local economy while reducing carbon emissions. The chapter concludes by exploring strategies for scaling up Vermont‘s community solar model to support the goals of a new economy.

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Jedediah Purdy

For environmental law to contribute to a more egalitarian and cooperative economy, it will have to be recast in a way that gives a central place to the organizing concerns of environmental justice: the distributive effects of environmental law and policy, and the constitutive question of which problems count as environmental, and whose conception of a good life in the natural world environmental law advances. This chapter locates that goal within two developments that have shifted the field more generally: the renewed recognition of the depth and importance of inequality and the emergence of “the Anthropocene” as a characterization of a transformed relationship between human beings and the rest of the planet.

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Edited by Melissa K. Scanlan