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Gaby Umbach, Why and When?: The Slow Path of Bottom-up Europeanisation – Economic Mal-Performance Accelerating Up-Loading Processes in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 228 - 230

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

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The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 228 and employment policy surveillance increasingly became in line with each other over the years. Not only do all three apply similar procedures, mechanisms, and coordination methods (cf. Schäfer 2005:140). With a view to labour market and employment policies they, moreover, increasingly focus on parallel socio-economic paradigms and structural reform priorities. So, they overlap thematically and in view of the recommendations issued (cf. Schäfer 2005:152f.). 3.4 Interim Assessment: The Impact of the EES – Potential to Europeanise or ‘Fettered’ New Mode of Governance? Coming back to the initial question on whether the EES disposes over the potential to Europeanise and if so, what kind of Europeanisation impact it exerts on domestic employment policy formation and policies, a positive, yet, mixed conclusion can be drawn at this point of the analysis. While the why and when as well as the how and what offer a rather positive assessment of the EES’s potential to Europeanise, the in how far balances this impression by pointing at limits of the strategy. 3.4.1 Why and When?: The Slow Path of Bottom-up Europeanisation – Economic Mal-Performance Accelerating Up-Loading Processes Every since the first formal constitutionalisation step of the Treaties of Rome, the further institutionalisation and constitutionalisation of employment policy related topics originated from up-loading processes, that is, bottom-up Europeanisation (cf. chapter 2.1.2.2). Progress was achieved mainly after recurring periods of economic baisse within the EU that forced member states to take joint action. Until the Amsterdam Treaty, these up-loading processes focused on the institutionalisation of employment policies and policy co-ordination rather than on their further constitutionalisation within the supranational treaty framework. They, yet, also resulted in the transfer of new tasks and competences to the EC/EU level accompanied by the, albeit hesitant, establishment of distinct European employment policy co-ordination structures. This development, moreover, went hand in hand with a shift from the early focus on supplementing the single market by social policies towards employment policy co-ordination in its own right. European institution-building during the 1960s and 1970s established different expert committees on employment policy under the European Commission and, later on, also under the Council. These committees brought together national and supranational experts that, for a long period, constituted a rather closed and small epistemic community (cf. chapter 2.1.1.2.3). They formed the institutional nucleus for the further development of supranational employment policy co-ordination structures. Within these (up-loading) institutionalisation processes, the European Council and the European Commission were particularly strong compared to other supranational The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 229 institutions. So, building on earlier integration steps, both acted as pace-setters for further bottom-up Europeanisation. Their dominance also mirrored the institutional equilibrium of that particular period in European integration history. Finally, with the ever-accelerating path-dependent up-loading processes of the 1980s and 1990s (with the European Council of Edinburgh, the Maastricht Treaty, the Delors White Paper, and the Essen Strategy) leading towards the integration of the Employment Title into the Amsterdam Treaty, the EES has shown to be “less an innovation than the natural extension of .. [the] emerging soft-law discourse” (Régent 2002:6) of the early 1990s (cf. chapter 2.1.1.3.2). So, it can be concluded that “the EES is the outcome both of a path-dependency story (Delors’ White Paper of 1993, Essen process, …), but also of more conflict-ridden developments” (Goetschy 2003:69; cf. Régent 2002:8) that accompanied the IGC leading towards the Amsterdam Treaty. During this IGC, especially the cleavage between the 1995 newcomers, disposing over strong Nordic social policy traditions, and the ‘big old’ member states, divided between the Continental/Mediterranean and the Anglo- Saxon welfare state model, became most evidently a ‘battle’ of systems and paradigms. This situation was only solved by a centre-left turn in many of the opposing ‘big old’ member states after general elections (cf. Régent 2002:6; Schäfer 2004:9f.). Within this conflict, the governments of both member states under analysis–overcoming their initial foot-dragging positions after or on the eve of general elections–were at a rather late point in the negotiations still able to up-load parts of their national preferences to the European level–the British government, yet, more successfully than the German. Within the climate of post-election change towards New Labour, the British government used this specific window of opportunity to reemphasise the relevance of flexibility, employability, adaptability, and de-regulation within the new Employment Title of the Amsterdam Treaty. Germany–anticipating national elections with the likely outcome of government change towards the centreleft and isolated by the loss of blocking partners at European level–was in a weaker negotiation position and was able to up-load only few domestic priorities. So, the German government tried to prevent the worst and focused on remaining national sovereignty in the area of employment policy-making and the constitutionalisation of social partners’ responsibility. The constitutionalisation of employment policy co-ordination was additionally boosted by the establishment of supranational monetary policy-making. In order to flank EMU with a high level of employment and high growth rates to stabilise monetary and price stability (cf. Régent 2002:9), many political actors asked for a stronger co-ordination of socio-economic policies. As a result of this plea for a more combined approach, the creation of supranational employment policy co-ordination, to ‘socially counterweight’ EMU also transformed the initial expert committees’ epistemic community into an EES-focused advocacy coalition (cf. chapter 2.1.1.2.3). This new community took into account a broader policy perspective as well as the preconditions of EMLG policy co-ordination (cf. chapter 2.1.1.2) in order to integrate different political levels and actors into the newly established employment policy co-ordination cycle. The negotiations during the Amsterdam IGC formed the The Why, When, How, What, and In How Far of European Employment Policy Co-ordination 230 first supranational arena for this broadening of the employment policy-related epistemic community. Subsequent developments–such as the Luxembourg Jobs Summit, the Cologne decision on the ‘second policy mix’ and, finally, the Lisbon Strategy– further advanced European employment and economic policy co-ordination towards a new integrated approach. The specific European policy paradigm, reconciling economic and social policies, that resulted from this combined approach, allowed “the EU level and member states to tackle a policy field in a much more comprehensive manner … providing a broader scope of policy solutions” (Goetschy 2003:91). These developments and especially the shifts during the Amsterdam IGC underlined the relevance and impact of the above mentioned intervening variables (cf. chapter 2.2; Tucker 2003:14) on the processes of up-loading or bottom-up Europeanisation. In a nutshell, the institutionalisation and constitutionalisation processes leading towards the establishment of the EES mirror the up-loading potential of the respective integration period as well as the preferences of EU member states to keep employment and labour market policies close to the heart of their national sovereignties. Yet, at the same time, they did not necessarily continuously increase the appreciation for the benefit of a supranational employment policy field in its own right, even though, meanwhile, it belongs to conventional political wisdom “that employment will be on the agenda, no matter the governments in power or the economic situation” (Jenson/Pochet 2002:12). 3.4.2 How?: New Ways of Europeanisation – Networking, Mutual Exchange and Learning as the Key to Domestic Change Outlining the structural-procedural provisions, that is, the how of the latter EES, the Essen Strategy and its constitutionalisation within the Amsterdam Treaty Employment Title established “a comprehensive system of monitoring a common action plan consisting of a number of Council policy guidelines, and building on annual procedures with strict dead-lines, national reporting mechanisms, benchmarks, peer reviews and Commission recommendations” (Jacobsson/Schmid 2001:2). The 2003 and 2005 structural-procedural adaptations of the EES did not alter these treaty provisions on the institutional set up of the strategy. They, yet, put more emphasis on results than on methods or annual reporting exercises. The reforms introduced the streamlining of socio-economic policy co-ordination cycles in 2003, the simplification of reporting obligations and the merger of economic and employment cycles into one single Lisbon Action Programme in 2005. Given that these reforms also reaffirmed the relevance of the BEPG for other socio-economic policies and, thus, the de facto subordination of the EGs under the BEPG, they did not shake up the predominance of the BEPG over the EES. The EES–in its old as in its new set up–can be regarded as “an open structure based on an innovative dynamic that relies on the dialogue between different actors at different levels, and on an evolutionary approach trying to reconcile potentially

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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.