First Published: November 9, 2020
This paper discusses cohesion policies of the EU and Hungary from the conceptual perspective of solidarity. Continuing recent debates positioned at the intersection of solidarity, welfare state and Europeanization, a multi-scalar approach of solidarity is explored. Although the notion of solidarity – i.e. overcoming inequalities across member states and their regions – was an important conceptual building block at the foundation of the EU, the usage of the term has decreased steadily in recent decades’ EU cohesion policies, and more significantly after the 2008 economic crisis. As a parallel trend, the concept’s meaning has shifted from a more general to a reduced one in narrow policy areas. Based on a document analysis, the paper reviews cohesion policy changes of recent EU programming periods and finds that solidarity has lost importance in main planning and legislative documents, a recent shift being the growth policy relaunch of past years. Contrasting these trends with the national scale, a case study of Hungary found that the concept of solidarity was mobilized according to EU-level cohesion policy ideas during the 1990s and early 2000s, but the current right-wing government put forward a new discourse of solidarity which they related with the refugee crisis.