Content

Gaby Umbach, Adaptation to the ‘Practice’: The Official Interim Assessment and the Streamlining of the EES – A Re-Interpretation of the ‘Legal Constitution’ in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 199 - 218

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 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212470

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 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. 3.2.3.1 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 2.1.2.3). 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 The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 200 (involving the Commission, the Council, and the Council’s Presidency) took place at supranational level. Finally, conclusions were drawn on the further development of the EES and its relation to the other socio-economic policy co-ordination cycles (cf. Jenson/Pochet 2002:8; cf. chapter 3.2.3.2). Within this three-stage process “ten [key] topics have been subject to evaluation: 1. Prevention and policies of activation to employment 2. Tax reforms and benefits 3. Lifelong learning 4. Social inclusion 5. Administrative simplification and the self-employed 6. Creation of jobs in services, at local level and in the social economy 7. Taxation 8. Modernising work organisation 9. Equal opportunities 10. Changes in policy-making” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:40f.). While analytically paying tribute to the existence of intervening factors and problematic stimulus-reaction relations (cf. European Commission 2002d:2; Jenson/Pochet 2002:10; cf. chapter 2.2.2.3), the Commission acknowledged that, despite national differences in employment policy traditions and regardless of the “difficulty of establishing clear causal relationships between overall performance and specific policies, over the same period a significant degree of convergence of national employment policies towards the objectives and the guidelines defined under the EES can be discerned” (European Commission 2002d:7; cf. Busby 2005:31; Tucker 2004:13). Most obvious signs of such convergence were the shift towards the activation approach of the EES and policy alignments in the areas of taxation, benefit systems, education, and lifelong learning as well as the increasing flexibility of labour markets (cf. European Commission 2002d:2). Thus, from 1997 to 2002, the Commission generally “adjudged [the EES] to have been a success” (Begg 2004:1) with structural improvements of European labour markets having taken place, even if different national reform paces were acknowledged (cf. European Commission 2002d:9).76 Even though the European Commission acknowledged the EES’s potential to instigate ?-, ?- and -convergence with “a ‘stress of convergence’ towards the best performers in the EU” (European Commission 2002d:15 and 9), the quality of work aspect was assessed to have remained problematic with “the rise of .. flexible employment .. largely taken place within low paid, part-time, temporary, and often insecure, sectors of national labour markets” (Busby 2005:35). So, while ?convergence (similarity towards a common model) was acknowledged, real convergence (worst performers pull alongside best performers), although confirmed by the European Commission, was denied by some authors. According to their 76 For the results of the 2002 interim evaluation in the UK and Germany cf. chapter 4 and 5. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 201 assessment, no discernible progress could be found “in the direction of poor performers’ convergence on the best-performing labour markets” (Tronti 2002:81f.; cf. Mósesdóttir 2003:187). From the 2002 interim evaluation exercise, the European Commission drew a rather positive conclusion on the employment situation and labour market performance of EU member states (cf. Busby 2005:31) as well as on the impact of the EES in general (cf. European Commission 2003a:3; 2006b; cf. Jacobsson/Schmid 2003:134). It underlined the effectiveness of the OMC applied with the EES and positively assessed its potential to promote “a shift in national policy formulation and focus – away from managing unemployment, towards managing employment growth” (European Commission 2002d:2; cf. ibid. 2003a:16) as well as a shift towards active labour market policies (cf. Langejan 2002b:50). According to the Commission, ?-convergence towards the activation paradigm of the EES had proven to exist in the change of national employment policies moving towards the four pillars of the EES as well as by structural improvements at the European level (European Commission 2002d:7; cf. Busby 2005:31). As a result, member states’ “[p]olicies under each pillar were progressively adjusted and employment priorities were mainstreamed into other policy areas like taxation and social security” (European Commission 2002d:9), also influencing areas like gender equality or social inclusion. At the same time, the EES, the EGs and the recommendations were considered to have inspired long-term structural reform of domestic public employment services. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the five year interim evaluation assessed the EES to have motivated political consent on new priorities such as youth unemployment, equal opportunities, lifelong learning, or quality of work through its agenda-setting potential, policylearning incentives and by spreading new ideas across domestic policy-making arenas (cf. ibid.). So, within the Commission perspective, the EES had proven to add to the supranational policy armoury, making employment policy co-ordination more coherent and focused on a high level of employment. The strategy was, furthermore, assessed to dispose over three favourable features: “ • political relevance: employment has become more important on the policy agenda; peer pressure does work; • information/transparency: there is high-quality analysis based upon common evaluation criteria; • learning effects: Member States have learned from experiences associated with the implementation of policy” (Langejan 2002b:50). Regarding its structural-procedural set up and institutional co-operation, the EES was assessed to have “been consolidated procedurally” (Best/Bossaert 2002:5) at European level. Moreover, the OMC was evaluated to have “proven its worth” (European Commission 2002d:15; cf. ibid. 2003a:6). Yet, at the same time, EP criticism emphasised “the need to better integrate the EES with national, regional and local labour market policies in the Member States and with the ESF policies” (ibid. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 202 2003a:16) as well as the need to further involve national parliaments, social partners and civil society (cf. ibid. and 18). Moreover and contrary to the official assessment, the EES was critically viewed to not have “achieved much in terms of coordination across policies” (Radaelli 2003b:53). Concerning inter-institutional co-operation at EU level, the Commission welcomed the increase in co-operation between the different Council formations and committees involved, between the different Commission services engaged, between the Commission and the Council and, at the national level, between the different ministerial departments contributing to the NAPs (European Commission 2002d:16; cf. Lund 2002:19). It generally recognised the EES to have “fostered recognition of the key role played by the social partners in a wide range of areas related to employment” (European Commission 2002d:15). Yet, at the same time it bemoaned that the “visibility of their contribution to the implementation of the guidelines could be greater” (ibid.:5). As a consequence, social dialogue and the integration of national parliaments were to be reinforced, even if social partners had been involved more directly in the recent years. In contrast to the domestic levels, social dialogue at European level was judged more positively. By employing an integrative and deliberative approach, the EES was assessed to be “a mechanism for learning that brings together actors with diverse viewpoints in settings that require sustained deliberation about problem-solving and oblige them collectively to redefine objectives and policies” (de la Porte/Nanz 2004:268). Nevertheless and despite of this rather positive evaluation, the Commission also critically acknowledged that “Member State’s policy mixes .. [were] still unevenly specified across the different pillars and their approaches towards some key issues (e.g. active ageing) seem[ed] piecemeal. Moreover, the credibility of their commitment to the Strategy .. [was] limited by the still widespread reluctance to set targets (e.g. on investment in human resources) and the continuing lack of visibility of a budgetary dimension” (European Commission 2002d:10). Contrary to the largely positive assessment by the Commission and despite of the fact that “[m]ost of the [member states’ national] evaluations present ‘some’ evidence of change due to the EES” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:46), “many voices – not the least from the South – have been raised to question whether a specific employment strategy .. [was] worth keeping” (Foden/Magnusson 2003:10f.). The majority of member states’ own evaluations showed evidence of their domestic employment policies being rather correspondent with the overall policy approach of the EES even before its formal inception. The impact of the EES was, thus, assessed to be stronger in countries with weak or missing active labour market policy traditions (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:48), while the more successful member states had opted to combine “appropriate macroeconomic policies, labour-market structural reforms and relevant employment policy measures” (Goetschy 2003:83) already before the EES. Thus, the latter group showed less adaptation and the degree of misfit, indeed, seemed to play a role for the impact of the EES at national level. So, in contrast to the Commission evaluation, some member states’ national evaluation reports, such as the Swedish or the British, stressed that the EES had not shown any impact on The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 203 domestic employment policies. Others, such as the Finish, recognised only marginal changes with especially the lifelong learning approach not having kept its promises (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:50). However, some countries, like Germany and France, ascribed a strong impact to the EES (Best/Bossaert 2002:5f.). The EES was also perceived to have increased “political salience, transparency, internal coordination or participation” (Best/Bossaert 2002:5) with “the centrality of the employability pillar …[being] re-confirmed and strengthened as a result of this EES +5 assessment” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:8). Domestic doubts on the potential of policy learning instigated by the EES were nurtured by persisting differences in labour market and employment policy traditions, the attribution of active labour market policies to a ‘northern’ labour market paradigm, the alleged neo-liberal intent of the EES and its huge administrative burden (cf. Foden/Magnusson 2003:11). On this background, in “terms of intensity, most of the changes made nationally could be qualified as ‘first-order learning’, with minor adjustments in policy instruments that would have occurred in any case, independently of the EES. ‘Second-order learning’, principally consisting of reintegrating and reinforcing a selected policy measure, occurred for selected parts of the EES, which varied from country to country” (de la Porte/Pochet 2003:48; cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:5). To counterweight criticism concerning the annual character of the process overburdening national administrations, the Commission especially highlighted the positive impact of this exercise that “has led to increased and more thorough exchanges of information between Member States, and the peer review process set up to evaluate the transferability of good practices .. [which] has allowed for more in-depth evaluation”, fostering bilateral exchange between member states (European Commission 2002d:15). In addition to the Commission’s and member states’ evaluation, some authors emphasised well-functioning peer pressure, the qualitative analysis on the basis of common evaluation criteria and the realisation of learning from implementation experiences as special strengths of the EES (cf. Langejan 2002a). Yet, partially in contrast to the Commission assessment, experts considered the EES to have had only moderate an impact on national policies accompanied by a limited focus on the examination of good practices, the limited commitment of social partners to European objectives and the hasty as well as bureaucratic annual process77 (cf. ibid.). These weaknesses were to be related to the weak economic rationale for coordination and the fact that progress was voluntary and based on a process that included regular reporting, peer review, general guidelines and country-specific recommendations rather than formal sanctions. The risk of the EES’s medium-term focus being thrust into the background was perceived to be rather high, with new obligations and targets being integrated each year. So, rocketing complexity of the EGs (cf. interview EU-4, cf. table 51), with quantitative targets, common objectives and commitments until 2001 overlaying it 77 A fact that was confirmed by nearly all actors interviewed for this study. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 204 like “trimmings on a Christmas-tree” (interview EU-1) turned the EES into a rather inflexible and complicated policy co-ordination instrument. They, moreover, extended the scope of activities as well as the overall structural and procedural requirements of the policy co-ordination process itself (cf. European Commission 2003a:6, 2005b:4), while they were, yet, not able to influence the most important variable of economic growth. With this development, the bureaucratic burden of the process was ever increasing with EGs, NAPs, reviews, and recommendations to be provided on an annual basis. The introduction of new co-ordination processes was risking to duplicate tasks and responsibilities at national level and, thus, to overburden national actors. Moreover, according to some experts, monitoring and dissemination needed to improve and co-ordination with other structural policies to be reassured (cf. Langejan 2002a). Table 22: Co-ordination within the EES 2002 2001 2000 1999 Level of co-ordination: Number of European quantitative targets/dates 9 7 2 1 Scope of co-ordination: Number of common objectives/commitments 95 80 52 45 Source: Langejan (2002b:52) Alongside the official five year interim evaluation, also the first peer review programme cycle 1999 – 2001 was examined (cf. OESB/INBAS 2001). Its evaluation highlighted rather little success with a view to the achievement of its main aim. “Whilst there .. [was] evidence at EU level of policy convergence through the adoption of certain labour market targets, there .. [was] little evidence either of systematic learning or of significant efforts at emulation” (Casey/Gold 2005:23). Participants of the programme were more focused on learning about single details of specific programmes and policies than about the overall programmatic or strategic approach chosen by the host country. So, “it could be argued that the initial policy has become so decontextualized that what is being gained from the review procedure is little more than ‘good ideas’” (Casey/Gold 2005:29). Nevertheless, the official evaluation report also confirmed that, in certain cases, the peer review programme initiated follow-up activities, including bilateral meetings and exchange among national officials (cf. OESB/INBAS 2001:3) The results of this first interim evaluation, published in mid-2002, emphasised the need for re-formulation of the EGs and for simplification of the EES (cf. Foden/Magnusson 2003:10). With this plea, it laid the ground for the reform of the EES and its streamlining with the other economic policy co-ordination cycles in 2003. The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 205 3.2.3.2 The ‘New’ EES: The 2003 Streamlining of Supranational Socio-Economic Policy Co-ordination Based on the results of the 2002 interim evaluation, the European Commission presented its proposals to streamline supranational socio-economic policy co-ordination cycles in January 2003. The proposals covered structural-procedural changes and the re-definition of the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES (cf. European Commission 2003a:6). They re-shaped both elements to better match with future challenges for the creation of high level of employment within the EU. The streamlining exercise aimed at increasing the “overall coherence between the EES and the Lisbon agenda … [. It was] supported by the alignment of the time frame of the EES to the medium term horizon of 2010, with a mid-term review in 2006” (European Commission 2003a:5). While some member states–among them the UK, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain–were actively involved in the (internet-based) preparation of the reforms (cf. interview D-2 and UK-1), others partially took a rather reactive position. 3.2.3.2.1 Structural-Procedural Adaptation Aiming at Enhanced Synergy and Coherence: ‘Slimlining’ the EES? In 2003, as a result of the 2002 interim evaluation, the EES and the EGs were revised and renewed for a new term until 2010. To structure the revision, the Commission identified four key topics “: (a) the need to set clear objectives in response to the policy challenges, (b) the need to simplify the policy guidelines without undermining their effectiveness, (c) the need to improve governance and partnership in the execution of the strategy and (d) the need to ensure greater consistency and complementarities with respect to other relevant EU processes, notably the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines” (European Commission 2002d:3). Therefore, better coordination, “encouraging .. profile-raising and agenda setting” (Busby 2005:29) of the EGs and the BEPG should strengthen the EU’s strategic approach towards job creation. The synchronisation of both processes and the Internal Market Strategy (IMS) (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:5; Borrás/Greve 2004:331; European Commission 2003a, 2006b) as well as the enhancement of complementarity, “co-ordination and consistency of the country-specific recommendations under the European Employment Strategy and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines” (Employment Taskforce 2003:59) built the focus of reform. According to the Commission, the EES and the employment package was expected to “benefit from being more directly related to the overall policy approach … [and from improving] the complementarities and mutually supportive character of the two sets of instruments” (European Commission 2002d:21). As a consequence, the revision aimed “to avoid overlaps and contradictions, to install a three-year cycle, to identify more stable and strategic guidelines, and to give more focus to implementation” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:9). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 206 The streamlining was proposed by the European Commission in September 2002. It should reinforce the implementation of the Lisbon targets and put more emphasis on the medium-term focus and targets of the EES (cf. European Commission 2003a:3, 2002d, 2002e). The proposal was examined by EPSCO in October 2002. The Council welcomed the communication and indicated a general consent for the aims of the initiative. The delegations, yet, “emphasised the importance of maintaining the autonomy of both processes, in particular the leading role of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in deciding on the employment guidelines” (Council of the EU 2002a:49) in order not to let the streamlining of supranational socio-economic policy co-ordination become a ‘slimlining’ of the EES. So, EPSCO was eager to maintain the EES’s identity, letting it benefit from the increase in coherence and the synergy between the different supranational socio-economic policy co-ordination processes. With this emphasis, it supported the Commission proposal that the streamlining exercise was to confirm “the role of the BEPGs as an overarching economic policy co-ordination instrument and the leading role of the EES in giving direction to and ensuring co-ordination of the employment policy priorities to which Member States should subscribe” (European Commission 2003a:7). This perception was re-emphasised by the Council conclusions of June 2003, repeating that the “BEPGs provide the overarching economic policy coordination of the Union, while the leading role on employment policy co-ordination lies with the Employment Guidelines and Recommendations to Member States” (Council of the EU 2003b:19). On the basis of the joint opinion of the EMCO, the EPC, and the SPC, the Commission communication on the streamlining was approved by EPSCO and ECOFIN in December 2002. The 2002 Barcelona European Council formally decided to synchronise the Luxembourg process, the BEPG, and the IMS (cf. Radaelli 2003b:44). Additionally, it “agreed targets for childcare provisions … for at least 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age and at least 33% of children under three years of age by 2010” (Employment Taskforce 2003:40). The synchronisation was formally agreed by the Council in June 2003 (cf. Council of the EU 2003b) after the Spring European Council of March 2003 indicated its consent. The new EES implicates an overall reduction of EGs (cf. Best/Bossaert 2002:9; de la Porte/Pochet 2003:40) and a splitting up of the Employment Package into two interrelated parts. The draft JER is presented by the Commission together with the Spring Report and the implementation reports on the BEPG, the EES and the IMS as part of the ‘implementation package’ in January each year before the Spring Summit. The Commission proposals for guidelines and the recommendations based on the evaluation of the NAPs–“a key tool for multilateral surveillance with the EES” (European Commission 2003a:6)–are submitted after the Spring Summit as part of the ‘guidelines package’ together with the BEPG in April. The Council adopts the guidelines in June after the European Council meeting. The NAPs are submitted in October, followed by the JER in mid-January (cf. European Commission 2006b, 2002b:10; 2002f). Additionally, the guidelines are extended to a three year period The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 207 with full reporting only due every third year. In the meantime, progress or implementation reports have to be delivered annually. The 2003 reform smoothened many of the structural-procedural problems of the first period of the EES, such as administrative overburdening of national administrations especially of federal member states or the insufficient time for new employment policies to impact. Yet, the new reporting period might be problematic insofar as the national context and variables, such as general elections, could pose difficulties to proper interim reporting with new governments eager to outline their new employment policy approach instead of merely reporting on the implementation of its predecessor’s policies. Such a development could, in the end, lead to rather asymmetrical reports that loose comparability. Hence, a decision for a two year reporting period without interim reports was assessed to might have been the better solution (interview D-2). 208 The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination Graph 7: The EES’s Annual Policy Co-ordination Cycle (1997-2002) T he E ur op ea n U ni on 's co -o rd in at io n an d m on ito ri ng c yc le in E m pl oy m en t p ol ic y si nc e 2 00 3 (A rt ic le 1 28 T EC ) G ov er nm en ts , A dm in is tra tio ns , P ar lia m en ts a nd P ol iti ca l Pa rti es , S oc io -E co no m ic In te rm ed ia ry g ro up s an d ne tw or ks St ag e 1 C om m is si on p re se nt s Sp rin g R ep or t a nd Im pl em en ta tio n Pa ck ag e (im pl em en ta tio n re po rt on th e B EP G , dr af t J oi nt Em pl oy m en t R ep or t (J ER ) a nd p ro gr es s re po rt in IM S) (M id -J an ) fo llo w ed b y di ffe re nt C ou nc il co nt rib ut io ns in cl . J ER (J an -M ar ) St ag e 3 C om m is si on ad op ts G ui de lin es Pa ck ag e (B EP G s, E G s an d re co m m an da tio ns ) a nd u pda te s IM S (E ar ly A pr il) (G ui de lin es fu lly re vi ew ed o nl y ev er y th ird y ea r) St ag e 4 E C O FI N a nd E PS C O C ou nc il fo rm ul at e an d co ns id er G ui de lin es P ac ka ge in cl . E G s, re co m m en da tio ns a nd d ra ft B EP G s (E ar ly J un e) St ag e 5 E ur op ea n C ou nc il en do rs es G ui de lin es Pa ck ag e (2 nd h al f o f J un e) St ag e 6 E C O FI N , E PS C O a nd C O M PE T IT IV E N E SS C ou nc il ad op t B EP G s, E G s an d re co m m en da tio ns , I M S (S um m er ) St ag e 7 M em be r st at es re po rt on im pl em en ta tio n an d ne w p ol ic y ac tiv iti es (N A Ps ) (A ut um n) St ag e 8 C om m is si on re vi ew s im pl em en ta tio n ba se d on na tio na l r ep or ts (W in te r) St ag e 2 Sp ri ng E ur op ea n C ou nc il (M id M ar ch ) G en er al p ol iti ca l o rie nt at io n So ci al P ar tn er s T ri pa rt it e So ci al Su m m it fo r G ro w th a nd E m pl oy m en t Sour ce : A da pt ed v er sion o f L in se nm ann /W es se ls (2002 a: 8) b as ed on E urop ea n Co m m iss ion (2002b :9). G ra ph 9 : T he 2 00 3 N ew E E S The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 209 In 2003, the Commission proposal for Council recommendations on employment were presented for the first time together with the draft EGs and BEPG in April 2003, after the Commission had received the input of the Spring European Council in March. The Council reached political agreement on the Commission proposals in June 2003 (cf. Council of the EU 2003b:18). The EGs and recommendations were adopted by the Council in July 2003 (cf. Council of the EU 2003c). While the EGs were maintained by the Council decision of October 2004 (cf. ibid. 2004a), the 2003 recommendations were replaced by new ones in October 2004 (cf. ibid. 2004b), paying tribute to the results of the 2003 Kok Report on the future of job creation in Europe (cf. Employment Taskforce 2003). In April 2005, the Commission presented integrated guidelines for growth and jobs for the period 2005 to 2008 (European Commission 2005c), renewing the EGs and the BEPG for a new three-year term. In its own terminology, the Commission emphasised the new EGs and recommendations to support “a new, more results-oriented European Employment Strategy” (ibid. 2003b) with “more result-oriented guidelines, leading to less emphasis on methods used, and better definition of results to be achieved” (ibid. 2003a:6). While the 2003 recommendations largely took up recommendations issued in earlier years (cf. chapter 5.1 and 5.2), the 2004 recommendations followed the new structure of the EES, re-modelling the priority areas for recommendations. As to the NAPs, the new EES initiated a change of reporting in so far, as they now are to be submitted jointly with the national BEPG and IMS reports in October each year. Moreover, only every third year a full report is foreseen. In the meantime, reporting concentrates on new policy developments and focuses on implementation. 3.2.3.2.2 The 2003 New ‘Policy ID’ of the EES: From Four Pillars to Three Overarching Targets With the 2003 structural-procedural streamlining of the EES with the BEPG and the IMS also came about fundamental change of the EES’s underlying ‘policy ID’. Thus and given the rocketing complexity of the EGs78 over the first five years, the Commission emphasised that “the hierarchy of priorities in the Employment Guidelines has become blurred, and the pillars have lost part of their intrinsic coherence” 78 According to one Commission official interviewed for this study, it should be kept in mind that the EGs already before 2003 (further to the amendment of horizontal objectives to the vertical ones) underwent changes caused by exchange of personnel at the top of the DG Employment. In the beginning of the EES, the DG was headed by an Irish Commissioner and a Swedish Director General, both belonging to the advocacy coalition of the EES during the Amsterdam IGC and both extremely sympathetic to the EES’s fundamental goals. After this leadership, DG Employment was led by a Greek Commissioner and a French Director General, both very much concerned about strengthening the European social model as well as keeping the continental European labour market traditions alive. These changes were assessed to have quite significantly impacted on the shape of the EGs (e.g. issues such as quality of work, balancing of flexibility and social security). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 210 (European Commission 2002d:19, 2005b:4). The Commission, thus, proposed to reduce and simplify the EGs with the new EES (cf. de la Porte/Pochet 2003:40), to shift attention from the annual preparation of EGs to implementation monitoring, and to avoid further change in order to elucidate the policy priorities of the EES. In the course of the 2003 streamlining, the four-vertical-pillar-six-horizontalobjectives structure was abandoned and reshaped to better fit the overall integrated approach of supranational socio-economic policy co-ordination (cf. Council of the EU 2003a:9) by the establishment of “ • three overarching objectives reflecting the Lisbon balance • a stronger emphasis on the delivery and governance of the EES • the identification of a limited number of priorities • specific messages addressed to the social partners • the definition of appropriate targets” (European Commission 2003a:9). The EGs were “strongly reduced in number and are no longer structured in four pillars: they define three overarching objectives–namely full employment, improving quality and productivity at work, and strengthening social cohesion and inclusion–and include 10 specific guidelines” (Smismans 2004:23; cf. Council of the EU 2003c:ANNEX; European Commission 2002d:18, 2003a:9ff.). The main objectives of the 2003 EGs, foreseen to be consistent with and complementary to the BEPG, were designed to better respond to the demands of an enlarged EU. They were integrated in ten EGs outlining the priority areas for actions in the EU member states (cf. table 51 and graph 10). The future focus of the EES was laid on “raising employment and participation rates in accordance with the Lisbon and Stockholm targets,… improving quality of work and promoting productive jobs … [and at] promoting an inclusive labour market, by reducing disparities at social (including gender) and territorial levels” (European Commission 2002d:18; cf. ibid. 2003a:9ff.). Additionally, in order to measure policy progress, specific targets were introduced to be reached by 2010. Among them were an average of 30 pp of long-term unemployed in work experience/training measures, upper secondary education for at least 80 pp of all working age people (25-64 years), increased participation rates in adult training measures (15 pp as EU-average), increased investments of companies in training (EU-average of 5 pp of labour costs), reduction of 15 pp in rate of work accidents, effective average exit age of 65 years, 90 pp child-care place availability for children from 3 years to mandatory school age and halving the gender pay gap (cf. European Commission 2002d:18). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 211 Graph 10: The ‘Policy ID’ and Structure of the New EES (since 2003) Full Employment Improving quality and productivity at work Strengthening social cohesion and inclusion EES EG 1 EG 2 EG 3 EG 4 EG 5 EG 6 EG 7 EG 8 EG 9 EG 10 Source: Own design based on Council of the EU 2003c:ANNEX and European Commission 2003a:11ff.. The new ‘policy ID’ and structure of the revised EES was welcomed by all actors involved (cf. European Parliament 2002). Under the new EES, the EGs, as is the case with the BEPG, are fully and substantially reviewed only every three years. Initially, they covered the period from 2002-2005 (cf. European Commission 2002f:2), before being reviewed for the subsequent period 2005-2008 (cf. chapter 3.2.3.4). In the intermediate period, they were to be renewed only if assessed necessary (cf. European Commission 2002e:4). The procedure for the adaptation of the EGs was kept as required by Art. 128 TEC (cf. ibid.:6; cf. chapter 3.2.1). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 212 3.2.3.3 The 2003 and 2004 ‘Kok Reports’: Initiating the Re-Launch of the EES and the Lisbon Strategy – Re-Energising Implementation, Re-Calibrating Priorities The evaluation exercises continued after the 2003 streamlining in order to adapt and further strengthen the implementation of the renewed EES. At the request of the 2003 Spring European Council, the European Commission, from April to November 2003, was assisted in this follow-up evaluation process by a special European Employment Taskforce of high-ranking experts79 headed by Wim Kok (former Dutch PM, cf. Busby 2005:32; European Council 2003). The Taskforce, the creation of which was–again in a bottom-up Europeanisation step–proposed by the Prime Ministers of Germany, France, Portugal, Spain and the UK (cf. Council of the EU 2003a:7), dealt with “an independent in-depth examination of key employmentrelated policy challenges and ... practical reform measures that can have the most direct and immediate impact on the ability of the Member States to implement the revised European Employment Strategy and to achieve its objectives and targets” (Employment Taskforce 2003:7). In its final report of November 2003, the Taskforce, unlike the 2002 official interim evaluation report (cf. European Commission 2002d:2), drew a ‘worrying picture’ (cf. Employment Taskforce 2003:5) of the implementation of the EES. In its assessment, the EU was “failing in its ambitious goal, set at Lisbon in 2000” (ibid.:8) as it seemed “increasingly unlikely that the overarching goal for 2010, and the employment objectives, will be attainable” (ibid.:11). Hence, assessing the potential impact of the EES, the Taskforce stated that “the EU will fail in its employment objectives unless Member States step up their effort to increase adaptability, labour supply and investment in human resources” (ibid.:5). Based on its critical evaluation, the Employment Taskforce identified four main areas for future action to re-energise the implementation of the EES, and reemphasise the prominent role of employability within the strategy. These four areas covered the (1) increase of adaptability of businesses and workers (taking up aspects of the ‘old’ employability, entrepreneurship and adaptability pillars); (2) attraction and integration of more people into the labour markets (taking up aspects of the ‘old’ employability and adaptability pillars); 79 Apart from Wim Kok, the following experts were members of the Employment Taskforce: Carlo Dell’Aringa (Professor at the Institute for Microeconomics and Labour, University of Milan), Federico Duran Lopez (Professor of Employment and Social Security, University of Cordoba), Anna Ekström (Head of Swedish white collar trade union SACO), Christopher Pissarides (Director of the Technology and Growth Research Programme, Centre of economic performance, LSE), Maria João Rodrigues (President of the EC Advisory Groups for Social Science, Professor at Lisbon University, Higher Institute for Business and Labour Studies, Portugal), Anette Roux (Chief Executive Officer, Bénéteau company), Günther Schmid (Director of Employment, Social Structure and Welfare State, Social Science Research Centre Berlin; member of the German Hartz commission) (cf. Employment Taskforce 2003:7). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 213 (3) increase of effective investment in human capital (taking up aspects of the ‘old’ employability pillar); and (4) implementation of reforms through better governance (self-reflexively taking up aspects of common targets’ and process management) (cf. ibid.:18). The report–pointing at Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and partially also the UK as best-performers and role-models (cf. ibid.:15) for -convergence (worst performers pull alongside best performers) through ?-convergence (increasing policy similarity) to achieve ?-convergence (similarity towards a common model) in the long-run–presented a series of proposals to strengthen employment growth and job creation and a number of country-specific messages. While focusing on job creation in general, “a distinction was made between the creation of new jobs in the short-term and the development of sustainable employment and productivity growth in the medium- and longer-term, with an emphasis on the latter approach” (Busby 2005:32). The proposals of the 2003 Kok Report, each offering detailed measures for implementation focused on • strengthening active labour market policies (cf. Employment Taskforce 2003:36f.); • relevance of ‘flexicurity’ between employment-friendly work organisation and employee-friendly individual work-life arrangements (cf. ibid.:27f.); • revision of tax and benefit systems to remove disincentives to take up work and to lower non-wage labour costs (cf. ibid.:19, 22 and 33f.); • need to boost female participation, to extent participation of older workers in the labour market and to actively integrate immigrants and persons at a disadvantage in order to reach the Lisbon targets (cf. ibid.:39f., 42f. and 44f.); • need to face the “Demographic Timebomb” (ibid.:12), that is, the shrinking and ageing workforce in Europe; • reenforcement of research and innovation, training measures and lifelong learning activities (cf. ibid.:24f. and 47ff.); • combination of employment and productivity growth and at the same time the increase in quality of work (cf. ibid.:16f.); and • expansion and facilitation of entrepreneurial activities (cf. ibid.:19). Country-specific messages to the UK and Germany were very much in line with these general proposals and with past Council recommendations (cf. table 23). They especially highlighted the following aspects to be improved and pointed at specific domestic implementation gaps (cf. chapter 5): The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 214 Table 23: Country-Specific Messages to the UK and Germany Area UK Germany Increase adaptability Sustainable balance of wage and productivity development Simplification of business set up Reform of social security systems / Reduction of non-wage labour costs Establishment of wage-setting mechanisms reflecting local, regional and sectoral differences Make work a real option for all Assessment of individual capacity to work in order to reduce number of people on sickness and disability benefit New Deal for Adults to be implemented before the current 18 month stage Improved access to child-care facilities, reduction of the gender pay gap Implementation of the ‘Hartz’ reforms to strengthen active labour market policies Re-examination of tax disincentives for female participation, increase child-care services, reduce the gender pay gap Integration of immigrants Investment in human capital Effective implementation of the national skills strategies Improvement of basic education Strengthening of lifelong learning measures Source: Own compilation based on Employment Taskforce 2003: ANNEX 1, p. 65 and 71. Adding to these sectoral proposals and country-specific messages, the report also paid attention to the procedural aspects of the EES. Especially the partnership approach of the EES was positively highlighted, albeit assessed to be in need of reenforcement. Moreover, the report stated that “strong political will and co-ordinated efforts of all actors are crucial for increasing adaptability, activating labour supply and equipping people for jobs” (Employment Taskforce 2003:56). Effective efforts were viewed to be missing in many member states, undermining the potential impact of the EES by missing active engagement and responsibility of social partners, ‘slow and patchy reforms’ (cf. ibid.:58) or the lack of national policy targets (cf. ibid.:57). As a follow-up to the report, the European Commission and the Council took up the four priority areas identified by the Employment Taskforce in order to strengthen common recommendations on the implementation of the member states’ employment policies (cf. Council of the EU 2004b:49). More targeted efforts to balance flexibility and security, to improve work organisation, to balance taxation-benefit relations, to foster active ageing strategies, to strengthen child-care facilities, to raise The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 215 research and development funding or to reduce early school leaving were additionally proposed to strengthen the result-orientation of the EES (cf. Busby 2005:32). This strategic revision following the 2003 Kok Report also strengthened the activation approach of the EES, putting employability even further to the heart of the strategy. In 2004–based on the decision of the March European Council–a second High Level Group of experts80 was established to further advice the European Commission until October 2004 on the revision of the Lisbon Strategy (cf. European Council 2004). In its November 2004 final report (cf. High Level Group 2004), the High Level Group was “pretty critical of the progress (or lack of it) of the Lisbon strategy” (Begg 2004:1; cf. European Commission 2005b:7, 2005c:4). These doubts were nurtured by the fact “that the Lisbon strategy ha[d] become too broad to be understood as an interconnected narrative” (High Level Group 2004:16) and that “the European Union and its Member States ha[d] clearly themselves contributed to slow progress by failing to act on much of the Lisbon strategy with sufficient urgency. This disappointing delivery .. [was assessed to be] due to an overloaded agenda, poor coordination and conflicting priorities” (ibid.:6). Based on this evaluation, the EU and its member states were urged to stronger commit and deeper involve themselves and all relevant actors in order to re-calibrate and implement the political priorities of the Lisbon strategy (cf. ibid.). This unenthusiastic picture of member states not taking the implementation of the Strategy seriously (cf. High Level Group 2004:10) was accompanied by the disastrous developments of the global stock market since 2004 and the fact that the overall economic performance within the EU during the “last four years ha[d] not been kind to the chances of achieving the Lisbon goals” (ibid.:9). Even though the report acknowledged member states’ employment policy reforms between 1997 and 2003 to shift domestic approaches towards the activation paradigm of the EES (cf. High Level Group 2004:10), the 2004 situation was characterised by a slow-down in job creation, continuing weak macro-economic growth (cf. Begg 2004:2; European Commission 2005c:3), low growth levels of private and public demand and persistently high levels of unemployment in some EU member states, such as Germany and France (cf. High Level Group 2004:10f.). “Moreover, the growth in employment ha[d] been at the expense of a slowdown in productivity 80 Consisting of Romain Bausch (President/Chief Executive Officer, SES Global), Niall Fitz- Gerald (Reuters Chairman), Antonio Gutiérrez Vegara (Member of Parliament, Spain), Will Hutton (Work Foundation’s Chief Executive), Anne-Marie Idrac (Chairwoman Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), Wanja Lundby-Wedin (President Swedish Trade Union Confederation), Thomas Mirow (Senior Business Advisor, former State Minister Hamburg), Bedrich Moldan (Charles University (Prague), Chairman of the Environment Centre), Luigi Paganetto (University Rome, Professor of International Economics), Dariusz Rosati (Member of European Parliament, Professor of Economics), Veli Sundbäck (Senior Vice-President Nokia), Friedrich Verzetnitsch (President of the Austrian Trade Union Federation) (cf. High Level Group 2004:5). The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 216 growth and ha[d] been flattered by an expansion of part-time work in many Member States” (Begg 2004:2; cf. European Commission 2005b:13). The negative assessment of the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy led the High Level Group to a series of reform proposals in order to reinforce the strategy “along three lines: more coherence and consistency between policies and participants, improving the process of delivery by involving national parliaments and social partners, and clearer communication on objectives and achievements” (High Level Group 2004:7, cf. ibid.:40). Main areas in need for policy priority readjustment to achieve economic and employment growth were • negative implications of demographic change on the European workforce caused by a considerable “greying of Europe” (ibid.:13 and 34); • need to enhance labour productivity growth rates especially by investing in research and development as well as in education and lifelong learning measures (cf. ibid.:15 and 33); • reenforcement of an ‘entrepreneurship-minded’ climate for job creation within the EU accompanied by the facilitation of the administrative and financial environment for business start up and entrepreneurial activities (cf. ibid.:28); • balance of flexibility and security in order to create an inclusive and adaptable labour market with the social dialogue remaining at the centre of the European labour markets (cf. ibid.:31); and • increase of female participation and participation of persons at a disadvantage (cf. ibid.:32). With a view to the fourth priority identified by the 2003 Employment Taskforce report–to ensure “effective implementation of reforms through better governance” (Employment Taskforce 2003:18)–the High Level Group also took under examination the OMC as the policy instrument behind most of the policy areas interlinked within the Lisbon Strategy. Even though positive elements–such as peer review, exchange of best practices and bench-marking–were acknowledged (cf. High Level Group 2004:42), the overall verdict–quite contrary to the positive assessment of the OMC within the official five year interim evaluation report of 2002 (cf. European Commission 2002d:15, 2003a:5 and 16)–was rather pessimistic. The High Level Group came to the conclusion that “the open method of coordination has fallen short of expectations [given that i]f Member States do not enter the spirit of mutual benchmarking, little or nothing happens” (High Level Group 2004:42; cf. Begg 2004:6). Thus, if the Lisbon Strategy were to be forcefully implemented, member states’ governments and national parliaments, social partners as well as the EU level would need to re-enforce and “re-double” (High Level Group 2004:7) their efforts, commitment and political will to make Lisbon and the OMC work (cf. ibid.:39). In this context, the High Level Group proposed a simplification of the strategy strongly focusing on existing indicators and targets as well as on the re-calibration of its institutional set-up with the following changes to be implemented: The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 217 “ • the European Council takes the lead in progressing the Lisbon strategy; • the Member States prepare national programmes to commit themselves to delivery and engage citizens and stakeholders in the process; • the European Commission reviews, reports and facilitates the progress and supports it by its policies and actions; • the European Parliament plays a proactive role in monitoring performance; • the European social partners must take up their responsibilities and actively participate in the implementation of the Lisbon strategy” (ibid.; cf. chapter 4.1). If these changes, including a revision of the EU budget to financially back the Lisbon Strategy (cf. ibid.:42), were not undertaken, the strategy was predicted to unquestionably fall short of delivery and become “a synonym for missed objectives and failed promises” (ibid.:10). In order to prevent such failure of the Lisbon Strategy, the Group, yet, did not propose its abandonment, but rather opted for the outlined re-calibration of priorities. Moreover, the Strategy was kept on its time track for delivery until 2010 in order to re-emphasise the need for urgent action by both the member states and the EU (cf. ibid.:11f.). 3.2.3.4 The 2005 Renewal of the Lisbon Strategy: Welding EGs and BEPG – Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs Based on the alarming results of the 2003 and 2004 evaluation, the European Commission presented its reform proposals for the renewal of the Lisbon Strategy in early 2005, acknowledging “that progress [of the strategy] ha[d] at best been mixed” (European Commission 2005b:3) and hampered by too strong complexity and conflicting policy priorities (cf. ibid.:13). As most important aims of the 2005 renewal, the Commission identified • mobilisation of broader public support for necessary changes to enhance the ownership of the strategy; • re-focusing of supranational action on growth and employment, simplification and streamlining of the Lisbon Strategy through the reduction of reporting activities to one European and one national report for the different co-ordination cycles; as well as • financial support for the implementation of the Lisbon strategy through the Community budget (cf. ibid.:5f.). The Commission proposals, moreover, identified core areas of reform and new activities to be integrated into a single ‘Lisbon Action Programme’ (cf. ibid. 2005c:8). Among them were elements such as the development of the EU towards a “more attractive place to invest and work” (ibid. 2005b:16f.) by deepening and completing The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 218 the single market, the enhancement of “knowledge and innovation for growth” (ibid.:21f.) by means such as increased public spending as well as the creation of “more and better jobs” (ibid.:26f.) by fostering adaptability through the combination of flexibility and security as well as the increase of overall investment in human capital and lifelong learning activities. Concerning the further development of the supranational institutional set up, the Commission took up the proposals of the 2004 High Level Group (cf. ibid.:15f. and 32; High Level Group 2004:39ff.; cf. above). It added the personalisation of the strategy by the newly created position of a national ‘Ms./Mr. Lisbon’ and acknowledged that the “governance of the Lisbon Strategy needs radical improvement to make it more effective and more easily understood [given that] [r]esponsibilities have been muddled between the Union and the Member States [with] … too many overlapping and bureaucratic reporting procedures and not enough political ownership” (European Commission 2005b:10; cf. ibid.:11 and 31). As finally decided by the 2005 Spring European Council (cf. European Council 2005; European Commission 2005c:6), the renewal and re-launch of the Lisbon Strategy brought about a further integration of the EGs and the BEPG, welding them into one single document (cf. European Commission 2005c:7, 2005d:3). It, moreover, established one single economic-employment co-ordination cycle, fusing the different national socio-economic cycles into one single ‘National Action Programme for Growth and Jobs’. This new cycle, leaving intact the revised ‘policy ID’ of the 2003 EES (cf. chapter 3.2.3.2.2) also more closely involves national parliaments (cf. European Commission 2005b:31). With this 2005 renewal of the Lisbon Strategy, the EGs now form part of the ‘Integrated Guidelines the Growth and Jobs’ (cf. European Commission 2005c:10). Their position behind the macro- and micro-economic guidelines, yet, allows for suspicion concerning their (slight) subordination within the welded supranational socio-economic policy co-ordination framework (cf. also chapter 3.3), even though the Commission’s Communication stated differently, attributing the EES “the leading role in the implementation of the employment objectives of the Lisbon strategy” (cf. European Commission 2005c:25). The related guidelines 17 to 24 cover a period of three years (2005-2008) (cf. Council of the EU 2005d:23; table 51). 3.3 In How Far?: European Employment Policy Co-ordination and the Constraints of Supra- and International Economic Integration As outlined above, the achievement of a high level of employment is influenced by and dependent on the favourable combination of constant economic growth, monetary and price stability and sound public finances (cf. chapter 2.2.2.3). Thus, European employment co-ordination through the EES, as one of the vertices of this socio-economic square (cf. graph 5) is flanked, empowered, and potentially fettered by supranational monetary policy-making and budgetary as well as economic policy co-ordination within EMU, the SGP, and the BEPG. International activities, such as

Chapter Preview

References

Zusammenfassung

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.