Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Europeanisation of social protection

The Europeanisation of social protection

Jon Kvist
Juho Saar
Copyright Date: 2007
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Europeanisation of social protection
    Book Description:

    This book challenges the common view that social protection is exclusively a national concern with EU social policy fragmented and merely symbolic. Through eleven country studies, the book reveals that EU-level developments increasingly interact with social protection in all countries - a remarkable transformation from ten years ago. Using the same thematic framework, the book systematically compares how Europeanisation of social protection differs across countries chosen to reflect increasing EU diversity. For each country, specialists in social protection evaluate the form and extent of Europeanisation, comparing national strategies with the European social model. They examine recent reforms and responses to EU initiatives, including the Lisbon strategy and the open method of coordination, the extension of the internal market to services, the Economic and Monetary Union and EU enlargement. Differences in Europeanisation reflect not only different political legacies but also different adjustment pressures in terms of national welfare regime and degree of competitiveness. Europeanisation of social protection brings together both new evidence and new perspectives, making it essential reading for everyone interested in the changing patterns of social policy in Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-252-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Foreword: The European Union’s evolving social policy and national models — seeking a new balance
    (pp. vi-vii)

    This publication comes out of a conference organised by the EU Finnish presidency in November 2006. The objective of the conference was to analyse the future of European social protection systems and of the European social model (ESM) against the challenges of increasing internationalisation, global competition and an ageing population.

    Member States remain largely responsible for social policy. EU competence is limited by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. However, social policy at national level is increasingly influenced by the European Union (EU), in fact more so than was anticipated 10 years ago. As a consequence of demographic ageing, Member...

  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Juho Saari
  6. List of abbreviations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  7. List of contributors
    (pp. x-xii)
  8. ONE European Union developments and national social protection
    (pp. 1-20)
    Juho Saari and Jon Kvist

    Social protection in the european Union (EU) is primarily a national preserve. The EU has little competence in social protection: regulative powers are limited and resources scarce. The EU cannot stipulate specific social protection policies, for example, the harmonisation of Member States’ social protection systems, nor can it carry out its own social protection policies. Member States are left to decide what type and level of social protection they want and are able to afford. While 10 years ago this was a fairly accurate picture of social protection in the EU, since then developments at both national and EU levels...

  9. TWO Germany: moving towards Europe but putting national autonomy first
    (pp. 21-40)
    Milena Büchs and Karl Hinrichs

    An analysis of the German government’s response to european Union (EU) social policy initiatives may be a more difficult task than for several other Member States for three interrelated reasons. First, Germany is a federal state. It gives the single states (Länder), as well as the municipalities, certain jurisdictions in the area of social policy, and the Länder have constantly opposed EU interference in their competencies. Moreover, the Länder have power via the Bundesrat, the second chamber, and may take social policy positions that contrast with that of the federal government or the Bundestag, independent of proposed or legislated responses...

  10. THREE The United Kingdom: more an economic than a social European
    (pp. 41-60)
    Julian Le Grand, Elias Mossialos and Morgan Long

    As a country’s social policy reflects its values, understanding and anticipating a country’s position on social policy first calls for identifying its ideological framework. In the United Kingdom, belief in the autonomy of the individual, the need to protect and assist the vulnerable, and a focus on economic growth to provide opportunity for all defines the role of government. It is through this framework that the UK considers both domestic and european Community policies.

    This chapter covers european social policy from the UK’s perspective. The first section spells out some of the fundamental differences (both perceived and real) between the...

  11. FOUR France: defending our model
    (pp. 61-76)
    Bruno Palier and Luana Petrescu

    On 29 May 2005, 54.87% of French voters voted against the european Constitution. However, this French ‘non’ appears to have been less against europe in general and more against the perceived threat of an ‘ultra–liberal’ europe, which would lead to the loss of jobs to foreign workers (both in France and abroad) from outsourcing, thereby creating a social dumping that would endanger the French social model. Since France views itself as having a strong commitment to ‘solidarity’,¹ it still believes that it has a ‘French social model’ to defend. It thus frames its position towards european social initiatives with...

  12. FIVE Italy: between indifference, exploitation and the construction of a national interest
    (pp. 77-98)
    Stefano Sacchi

    Italy is generally considered a warm supporter of the european integration process. While the positive attitude of Italians towards the european Union (EU) has somewhat declined in recent years, it remains high enough to allow justifying and legitimising domestic strategies of state modernisation through pointing at EU membership imperatives. Paradigmatic in this regard is the impressive sequence of (mainly social policy) reforms in the 1990s, allowing Italy to enter the economic and Monetary Union (EMU) through the main door. Still, Italy’s implementation record is poor, and its participation in day–today EU–level decision making is generally haphazard. Social policy...

  13. SIX Poland: redefining social policies
    (pp. 99-116)
    Irena Wóycicka and Maciej Grabowski

    Defining Poland’s official position towards european social policy initiatives is difficult, because as a result of parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2005 the right–wing Law and Justice Party took power and announced a radical political transformation. The former left–wing liberal government declared support for modernising the european social model (ESM), focusing on employability and vocational activation. Instead, the present ruling elite seem to emphasise the need to ‘maintain the european social model based on solidarity’. This emphasis may signify a major shift in the approach to adapting Polish solutions to the concept of the ESM: a weakening...

  14. SEVEN Spain: starting from periphery, becoming centre
    (pp. 117-136)
    Ana Guillén

    The European Union (EU) means a lot to Spain. It bears a symbolic value of belonging and identifying with an advanced and modern geographical area. Such a feeling is deeply grounded in historical reasons: Spain was and felt apart for centuries, probably since the decline of the empire, but much more so during the 40 years of the Francoist dictatorship (1939–75). Thus Spain has been an enthusiastic and respectful Member State. nonetheless, its acute consciousness of backwardness (much more subjective than objective) has also pushed Spain into proving at all times that it is also a deserving Member State,...

  15. EIGHT The Czech Republic: tradition compatible with modernisation?
    (pp. 137-152)
    Martin Potůček

    As with other national models, the Czech social policy model is an outcome of historical legacies, decisions made at different times by various actors, filtered by street–level implementation capacities and mirrored by public reflections of its operations and effects. Up to now, it has been able to resist the one–sided, hard–line reforms happening in some other post–communist countries. Its piecemeal development can be characterised by its functional adaptation to societal, political and economic changes, which preserved its core functions: universal access to basic social and health services, and preventing the most vulnerable people from falling into...

  16. NINE Finland: towards more proactive policies
    (pp. 153-174)
    Juho Saari and Olli Kangas

    The Finnish attitude to the european Union (EU) and to europeanisation is a mixture of a number of contradictory elements. every political party has its own opinions of the EU, and the political colour of the cabinet has an impact on the government’s official stances on the issue. The official opinion is formed in Parliament, where the Grand Committee, representing all parties, formulates the parliamentary will that does not necessarily need to coincide with the government’s standpoints. Usually the Left Alliance and the Centre Party have been quite critical towards the EU, while the Social Democrats and the Conservatives have...

  17. TEN The Netherlands: social and economic normalisation in an era of European Union controversy
    (pp. 175-194)
    Anton Hemerijck and Peter Sleegers

    In recent years the european integration project has become increasingly controversial in the polarised political landscape of the netherlands. The legitimacy of engaging in further deepening and broadening of european Union (EU) integration, in the further enlargement of the EU, and in a sensitive constitutional discourse on the EU has become challenged in Dutch society, which has traditionally been supportive of the EU.

    Three days after the French rejected the proposal for a Treaty establishing a Constitution for the EU, Dutch voters did the same. How this message should be interpreted is still unclear. Although general support for european integration...

  18. ELEVEN Denmark: from foot dragging to pace setting in European Union social policy
    (pp. 195-210)
    Jon Kvist

    The relationship between national social policy and the european Union (EU) is a recurrent theme in public debates throughout europe. These debates are typically sparked by eU referenda, irrespective of their official theme, with Dutch and French polls on the european Constitution as vivid illustrations. Both entailed heated discussions of the impact of EU enlargement and european integration on national social policy. And both polls resulted in rejections of ratifying the Constitution.

    In this context, changing Danish government responses to european integration in social policy may be of more general interest for at least two reasons. First, Danes have a...

  19. TWELVE Greece: the quest for national welfare expansion through more social Europe
    (pp. 211-228)
    Theodoros Sakellaropoulos

    This chapter aims to analyse and explain Greece’s official response to the european Union’s (EU’s) evolving social policy. Understanding this response entails considering four important factors influencing the overall Greek attitude towards the european integration project: the country’s economic underdevelopment in relation to other EU countries; the late and inadequate development of social structures and the welfare state; the wide consensus among the major political parties on european integration, based on the predominance of political criteria; and the underdevelopment of civil society and the ineffectiveness of public administration.

    The first two factors significantly influence Greece’s goals towards european integration: the...

  20. THIRTEEN The Europeanisation of social protection: domestic impacts and national responses
    (pp. 229-248)
    Jon Kvist and Juho Saari

    During the past 10 years, the europeanisation of social protection has undergone a remarkable transformation. Europeanisation of social protection concerns the relationship between the national and EU levels in social protection. Originally, Jean Monnet and other architects of the European Communities (later the European Union, EU) bought into neofunctionalist theories of European integration. According to neofunctionalism, cooperation among European countries in economic areas and technical matters — called ‘negative integration’ — would gradually spill over into ‘positive integration’, with countries agreeing on the formulation of common policies at the EU level (see Haas, 1958). Thus defined, positive integration entails a transfer of...

  21. FOURTEEN Seeking a new balance
    (pp. 249-266)
    Juho Saari and Kari Välimäki

    European social policy has evolved significantly since the late 1980s, when the idea of a social dimension to the european Union emerged onto european policy agendas. During the early 1990s, the common points of departure for these discussions were the concepts of subsidiarity and proportionality, both of which underlined the limited competence of the european level to proceed in this field. Today, after the introduction of the Lisbon Strategy and the open method of coordination (OMC), systematic attention has been focused on the social aspects of european integration at the european level. Clearly, major shifts in mental models, ideas on...

  22. References
    (pp. 267-298)
  23. Index
    (pp. 299-308)