Social security rights and the crisis – Social retrenchment as the normality of the financial state of exception
The main purpose of this project is to investigate the effects of the 2007-2008 financial crisis on the Portuguese social security system. Bearing in mind that the Portuguese Constitution (article 63) enshrines social security as a fundamental and universal right we will assess the effects of austerity, which meant, during the 'adjustment' period, the reduction of social benefits' degree of generosity and scope, either directly due to the cuts that were made in the respective amounts, or indirectly, notably through the labour markets reform (e.g. flexibility, job insecurity and the decrease of wage incomes) and also through the degradation of public services that implied a loss of adequacy and effectiveness in the benefits provided. We also wish to analyse to what extent the crisis has been a pretext to engage by stealth into a systemic reform of the Portuguese social security system that by jeopardizing those main constitutional rules might lead to a permanent violation of social rights and ultimately to the reconfiguration of the Portuguese Welfare State. This means to assess in which way the crisis exceptional context, the moment of 'financial state of exception' that, according to the constitutional court, justified a temporary suspension and restriction of social security rights (maxime in the case of old age pensions), might have implied after all a new state of normality (due to the alleged structural financial fragility of the system) - the normality of the financial state of exception.
CIES-Iscte - Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology
Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra
Institute for Economic, Financial and Tax Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon