European Journal of Philosophy 30 (2022), 530-545
What would it take for the EU to be in the service of social justice as much as it can be required to be? This paper argues that the EU has a duty to further social justice within its member states, and that its main avenue for discharging this duty should be to incentivise and facilitate the adoption, extension, and maintenance of just welfare policies, which, so it suggests, consist of universal and egalitarian such policies. This proposals contrasts both with a more integrationist approach, according to which welfare policies within the EU should be, to a significant extent, supranationalised; and with an internationalist proposal, according to which the EU should mainly preserve, and extend, member states’ freedom to act in a globalised world economy, and generate economic benefits which these states might, or might not, employ to further internal justice. The argument of the paper demonstrates that this proposal has important advantages over these two rival approaches, and that a principled and plausible justification for it is to be found within an extended internationalist framework for theorising social justice. It concludes by considering what kind of EU policies its adoption might call for, in practice.