Gaby Umbach, The Underlying ‘Policy ID’: Spotlight at the Initial What of the EES in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 195 - 199

Europeanisation of National Employment Policies and Policy-Making?

1. Edition 2009, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4128-4, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1247-0

Series: Studies on the European Union, vol. 1

Bibliographic information
The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 195 (cf. Jacobsson/Schmid 2003:130), provides for a Community tool to finance pilot projects. Yet, activities under the ESF remain largely unlinked to those under the EES as “neither the Employment Title nor the provisions governing cohesion policy include any explicit reference to the other” (Hartwig 2002:112; cf. Jacobsson/ Schmid 2003:131). Additionally, the asynchronous policy cycles of the ESF and the EES suppress explicit coherence between the two, while in parallel, the former, nevertheless, supported the four pillar approach of the latter (cf. Hartwig 2002:113). However, secondary legislation is more precise in this context, offering a direct link between the two (cf. ibid.:112). Therefore, in order to increase effectiveness of the ESF and the EES, the overall “task is to streamline Community initiatives, pilot projects and ESF interventions …[as to] date they are far too much two different worlds …[with] different policy cycles … handled with by different administrations at both European and (sub-) national level” (Smismans 2004:21; cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:12; Jacobsson/Schmid 2003:130). This request was reinforced by both the 2003 and the 2004 Kok Report and reformed with the 2007 financial perspective (cf. chapter 3.2.2 The Underlying ‘Policy ID’: Spotlight at the Initial What of the EES The EES presents “an integrated approach bringing education and vocational training policies, social security systems, labour-market policies, competition and tax policies closer together” (Jacobsson/Schmid 2003:111). The overall “philosophy underpinning the EES is that while flexibility is needed, it should be predicated upon upgrading or renewal of skills, facilitation of mobility and, generally, investment in human capital” (Begg 2004:4), initiating “a paradigmatic shift towards ‘activation’ and ‘responsibilisation’” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:22). So, an activation approach and the focus on active labour market policies are at the heart of the EES’s underlying ‘policy ID’ (cf. Jacobsson/Schmid 2003:111; Jenson/Pochet 2002:4; Serrano Pascual 2003:141; Tucker 2004:14). As a method, goal, project, ethic, and ideology (cf. Serrano Pascual 2003:143), this activation approach targets at job creation, “ways of encouraging people to work … [,] increasing the activity rate …[,] adaptation of national systems to the challenges linked to the emergence of a new production model …[,] fight against dependence … [and] revision of the representation of the social question” (ibid.). It most strongly emphasises training and lifelong learning as a basis for the future development of a skilled labour force and highly adaptable labour markets (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:24; Heidemann 2003:170; Steinle 2001:152) and replaces “the old formula of ‘protection against risk’ … by a new idea of ‘ability to adapt to change’” (Heidemann 2003:174). Moreover, the EES “allows social goals to gain political purchase on economic policy making” (Laffan/Shaw 2005:10). This specific combination owes much to “the importation of a basic principle of Third Wayism, and the creation of the notion of ‘employability’ as a new term in Eurospeak” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:7; cf. Tucker 2004:13). At the same time, it represents a The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 196 supply-side focus “fully compatible with the EMU requirements and the internal market, as well as the dominant economic approach” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:42; cf. chapter 3.3) of the EU, “complement[ing] .. an economic model which continues to constitute the hard core of European integration” (Pochet 2002:42). Yet, by taking into account anti-discrimination and equal opportunities, the EES also presents “an alternative to both neo-liberal preferences and the post-1945 employment patterns” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:20). It “enables a response to be given to both liberal arguments (reduction of public expenditure, strengthening the free play of the market) and social-democratic arguments (condition of institutionalisation of solidarity)” (Serrano Pascual 2003:150; chapter 2.2.2 and 3.1.2). So, “[e]mbedded in [the EES and] the Lisbon Strategy of 2000 lay divergent assumptions about social market protection and free market flexibility, between welfare capitalism and ‘Anglo- Saxon’ capitalism” (Wallace, W. 2005:486; cf. Serrano Pascual 2003:148). These elements mirror the two approaches dominant at the time of the inception of the EES (cf. chapter 3.1.2). Instead of concentrating on a decline in unemployment levels, the aim of the EES is to raise the level of employment by domestic adaptation to its particular ‘policy ID’. “Behind this lay concerns about the financial viability of Europe’s social model, especially in terms of pensions, and the need for a secure revenue base. It followed that the goal of increasing labour force participation became central, and attention focussed primarily on increasing and improving labour supply” (Foden/Magnusson 2003:6). Within the EES’s ‘first-phase’ (1997-2002), its ‘policy ID’ was based on four strategic pillars: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability, and equal opportunities (European Council 1997:point 22; European Council 2000a:point 29; cf. graph 8), with the employability pillar becoming the most prominent and significant trademark of the EES (cf. Foden/Magnusson 2003:6). These “four pillars, which were agreed upon in a top-down manner, … impl[ied] for some countries important structural reforms … not necessarily in tune with their dominant national policy objectives or traditions” (Smismans 2004:15). In such cases, domestic misfit instigated policy adaptation aiming at ?-convergence (similarity towards a common model) through down-loading of the EES approach. Especially the employability pillar reflected “the belief that there is significant labour-market mismatching … [that] become[s] more acute through … the process of technological development and the ageing of the workforce” (Foden/Magnusson 2003:7). It focused on “improving access of the unemployed … to the labour market, both through preventive action, in particular by providing training, and through ‘activation policies’ by reviewing tax and benefit systems” (Smismans 2004:11) rather than on financing wage replacement costs (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:3). Main target groups under this pillar were long-term unemployed and youth. The entrepreneurship pillar was foreseen to enhance business dynamics as well as job creation (cf. Foden/Magnusson 2003:7). It assembled measures to support business start-ups by reducing administrative burdens, simplifying taxation as well as the overall business environment especially for self-employment and SME. It The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 197 included the reduction of supplementary wage costs, the support for secondary capital markets and tax system reforms (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:3). “Allied to the notion of dynamism, and in some sense rebalancing it, came the emphasis on negotiating change and the search for ‘flexi-security’” (Foden/Magnusson 2003:7). Thus, the adaptability pillar referred to overall labour market reforms by measures aiming at “the modernisation of work organisation in order to reconcile more flexibility with security and high occupational status” (Smismans 2004:11; cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:3), establishing the famous, albeit hazy ‘flexicurity paradigm’74 of the EES. Its policy targets were related to enhancing the flexibility of working hours, labour organisation, and employment contracts or to tax advantages for in-house training. In this context, the ‘policy ID’ of the EES set new accents and opened up a path towards a re-interpretation of the policy field’s terminology. This approach followed the insight that, while “promoting flexibility on the labour market, it is also important to foster new forms of security. Security in today’s labour markets is not a matter of preserving a job for life. In a more dynamic perspective, security is about building and preserving people’s ability to remain and progress in the labour market” (Employment Taskforce 2003:28). The equal opportunities pillar strongly targeted at female participation within the labour market and promoted measures to reconcile work and family life. It embraced “gender mainstreaming, tackling gender gaps in unemployment rates, [and] encouraging gender pay equality” (Smismans 2004:11). It, moreover, focused on activities to improve part-time work conditions and child-care facilities (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:3; Mósesdóttir 2003:183) as well as measures related to the integration of persons at a disadvantage into the labour market. With this focus, the equal opportunities pillar that was especially promoted by the Scandinavian countries (cf. Steinle 2001:160) offered instruments “to push the member states towards policy convergence around the dual-breadwinner model” (Mósesdóttir 2003:184), a concept rather distant from German labour market traditions (cf. chapter Until the 2003 revision of the EES (cf. chapter, the EGs were grouped under these four pillars.75 The first 19 EGs for 1998 were adopted by the Council in December 1997 based on the decision of the 1997 extraordinary European Council on employment (cf. Council of the EU 1997b). The “Commission had proposed rather more detailed guidelines, accompanied by quantitative benchmarks, than most member states were willing to accept” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:22) and, thus, its proposals were downgraded by the Council. They, yet, provided for two benchmarks for the “significant increase in the employment rate in Europe on a lasting basis” (Council of the EU 1997b) and for the decline of the overall unemployment rate (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:22). In the course of its lifetime, the EES and its underlying ‘policy ID’ especially caused by its “intensification in quantitative terms, .. has become more complex, and many would argue that it has also become increasingly autonomous, becoming a 74 Initially labelled ‚flexi-security’. 75 For a full overview on the EGs 1998 to 2005 cf. table 51. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 198 policy process in its own right” (ibid.:25). Accompanying these developments, criticism has been raised “that there is too much red tape, too many goals, and too much focus on the process itself instead of its results” (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:9; Langejan 2002b:52). Particularly since the decisions of the Lisbon and Stockholm European Councils, the four pillars were amended by the concentration of the EGs on the six key horizontal objectives to (1) generally raise employment; (2) provide for a better quality of employment; (3) strategically promote lifelong learning; (4) strengthen the involvement of social partners; (5) establish equilibrium between the strategy’s four building-blocks; and (6) search for suitable indicators to measure the success of the EES (cf. Jenson/Pochet 2002:8; Langejan 2002b:49), that is, ?-convergence (similarity towards a common model). With the annual recommendations to member states issued since 1999/2000– assessed to be “the climax of the EES’s practical institutionalisation” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:27)–the supranational level additionally disposes over an instrument capable of putting “more pressure on the member states to meet the objectives set out in the guidelines” (ibid.) and, thus, of fostering the development towards ?convergence, “while ensuring a sort of constitutionalisation of fundamental (social) rights” (Pochet 2002:32). Graph 8: The ‘Policy ID’ of the ‘Stand-Alone’ EES (1997-2002) Indicators Pillar Equilibrium Social partnership Lifelong learning Employment quality Employment increase Entrepreneurship Measures to ? increase entrepreneurship by facilitating to start-up and run business, ? simplify business environment ? reduce ancillary wage costs, ? support efficient secondary market for capital, ? promote risk capital and reforms of tax systems (reduction of taxes on labour force). Employability Measures to ? promote employability by enhancing the attributes of workers, ? promote the move to active employment policy, ? foster the modernisation of training systems / vocational training of unemployed persons, ? minimise youth unemployment by facilitating the move from school to work. Adaptability Measures to ? reinforce the modernisation of labour environments, ? increase flexibility of working hours, labour organisation and contracts of employment as well as tax advantages for inhouse training. Equal opportunities Measures to ? assure equal opportunities, ? improve gender specific problems through the integration of parttime work, ? improve childcare opportunities and equal employment rates for men and women, ? support employment of women, ? facilitate reintegration of women into the labour market. EES Source: Own design based on Council of the EU 1997b:Annex and European Council 1997. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 199 3.2.3 Adaptation to the ‘Practice’: The Official Interim Assessment and the Streamlining of the EES – A Re-Interpretation of the ‘Legal Constitution’ As in the case of most treaty-based provision, also the content of the ‘legal constitution’ of the EES witnessed re-interpretation and adaptation to its actual practice. Based on the first official interim assessment in 2002 and a series of subsequent evaluation reports, the adaptation of the EES paid tribute to diagnosed shortcomings and to the actual development of the political practice ever since its inception. The First Five Years: Positive Interim Assessment, Rocketing Complexity – The EES Achieving Better Practice by Exchange of Best Practice? The 2002 JER underlined the coherence and clarity of the NAPs and their response to the horizontal objectives of the EES to have improved over the first five years of the strategy (cf. Council/European Commission 2003:5). The NAPs were assessed to present a better policy mix than in previous years, laying more emphasis on equal opportunities and entrepreneurship. At the same time, “[h]owever, the use of national targets, reporting on the impact of measures on the labour market budgetary information, evidence of use of structural funds to support the EES and the involvement of key stakeholders all appear largely insufficient” (ibid.). Given that the 2001 situation raised substantial concern, efforts to reach the 50 pp employment target for older workers by 2010 were assessed to need reinforcement. Furthermore, the Commission bemoaned quality of work aspects not to be confronted sufficiently by the member states (cf. Council/European Commission 2003:5; European Commission 2005c:3). This development indicated at thin rather than at thick learning in this area (cf. chapter On the other hand, initiatives regarding lifelong learning were assessed to be progressing across Europe, even if the further development of more inclusive and comprehensive approaches was necessary (cf. Lund 2002:19). Especially the “widening gap in the take-up of education and training opportunities between those with low and high skills and between older and younger age groups ..[gave] cause for serious concern” (Council/European Commission 2003:6). The 2002 annual assessment provided for the scenery, in which the official five year interim evaluation of the EES took place. As decided by the 2000 Nice Summit, the EES–after its first five years of lifetime–was subject to an official functional and political interim evaluation, that “initially [was] a quasi-clandestine evaluation which, under pressure of its discourse on openness, eventually became public” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:41; cf. European Commission 2002d:2; European Council 2000c:ANNEX Ia; Pochet 2002:31). It was taking place in a “three-stage evaluation process” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:8), focusing on the strategy’s efficiency rather than on its structural-procedural aspects (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:39). First, a technical assessment (involving experts, academics, and public administrations) was undertaken to answer a supranational questionnaire. Second, a political evaluation

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Mit ihren spezifischen Merkmalen als neues Politikinstrument – wie etwa ihrem rechtlich nicht bindenden Charakter, dem Ziel des gegenseitigen Politiklernens durch Austausch bester Praktiken oder gemeinsamen Evaluierungsprozessen – stellt die Europäische Beschäftigungsstrategie (EBS) und die mit ihr Anwendung findende Offene Methode der Koordinierung (OMK) beschäftigungspolitische Akteure in der EU vor die neuen Herausforderungen von Politik-Koordinierung, die die Politikgestaltung im europäischen Mehrebenensystem neu prägen.

Das vorliegende Buch beschäftigt sich intensiv mit diesen unterschiedlichen Facetten der EBS und ihrer Wirkung. Es geht dabei über bisherige Einzelstudien zur EBS hinaus und befasst sich nicht nur mit deren Entstehung, Entwicklung und Merkmalen. Es kontrastiert vielmehr den eigenen Anspruch der EBS mit ihrer politischen Realität und untersucht theoretisch hoch reflektiert deren Einfluss auf Politik-Koordinierungsstrukturen, Beschäftigungspolitiken und zugrunde liegenden Ideen sowie deren Zusammenspiel mit anderen wirtschaftspolitischen Bereichen. Neben der EU-Ebene dienen Großbritannien und Deutschland als Fallbeispiele für mitgliedstaatliche Anpassungsprozesse. Das Buch verankert seine Wirkungsanalyse sehr fundiert in der wissenschaftstheoretischen Debatte um Europäisierung und Politikkonvergenz, um deren Anwendbarkeit im Falle der EBS kritisch zu analysieren. Es komplettiert damit Europäisierungsstudien zu regulativer Politik durch die Analyse des Einflusses weicher Politik-Koordinierung im europäischen Mehrebenensystem.