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This article analyzes the changes in European governance since the beginning of the euro crisis in relation to the project of constructing Social Europe. The article tracks the incorporation of a structural reform agenda originally designed as bailout conditionality for countries on the verge of default into EU economic governance as a strategy for growth. Beyond the contestable grounds of this reform agenda, its adoption by the EU in the mode of crisis management poses serious questions of legitimacy. The new enhanced economic coordination process includes obligatory guidelines in domains under the legislative competence of Member States, such as labor regulation and taxation, under the guise of a technocratic imperative. The article also shows that despite the intensely neoliberal character of the proposed structural reforms, the Commission has foregrounded the protection of Europe’s welfare regimes as a key reason for reform. In reality, such reforms would dramatically alter welfare regimes, emptying out traditional welfarist goals such as the decommodification of labor without appropriate political processes. This article argues that these developments are likely to challenge the already weakened legitimacy of the European Union.

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20 Colum. J. Eur. L. 31-76 (2013)