The understanding of the European Union poses a challenge for Sociology and its traditional conceptions of the state. In particular, the impact of the social dimension has been underestimated and undervalued. This paper explores the implications of the developing social dimension of the European Union for European social relations in the context of globalization which allegedly reduces the power of states to act effectively in the social realm. It argues for a broader conceptualization of the social dimension and for a new conception of the regulatory state. It argues that the significance of a politico-legal project social justice. It concludes with a reconsideration of the powers of the state in an era of globalization.