It was as if the ghost of Karl Polanyi hung over political leaders and top government officials as they plotted the social future of Europe in Vilnius this week. Behind their backs, the Hungarian political economist would have understood their efforts to address the ‘polycrisis’ into which four decades of deregulated markets had plunged the continent—and their focus on socially re-embedding those markets to point the European ship towards calmer waters.

Social rights—securing Europe’s future (