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Gaby Umbach, British Employment Policy Co-ordination: Integrated Leadership, Centralised Polity, ‘Trimmed Pluralism’, Few Veto Points, and the EES – ‘Strangers in the Night’? in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 270 - 286

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
Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 270 4.2 The National Ends of the EES-PCN: Bypassing Domestic Paths or Resilient Traditions at Work – Adaptation Leading to Institutional Isomorphism? Taking up the assumptions of the first guiding thesis (cf. chapter 2.3.1), the present sub-chapter analyses whether the EES has led to a Europeanisation and institutional adaptation of existing domestic structures in the UK and Germany (cf. chapter 2.2.1) that led towards institutional isomorphism (cf. chapter 2.1.2.3.2) among the institutions involved or whether national traditions prevailed, leading towards a pathdependent adaptation of existing institutional designs to the new supranational provision. It will, moreover, be examined, whether similar or different effects of the EES can be witnessed in the UK and in Germany and in how far different effects of the EES can be attributed to underlying domestic institutional traditions and to different systemic premises, defined as intervening variables (cf. chapter 2.2). 4.2.1 British Employment Policy Co-ordination: Integrated Leadership, Centralised Polity, ‘Trimmed Pluralism’, Few Veto Points, and the EES – ‘Strangers in the Night’? As outlined above (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1), the UK is characterised by a centralised polity, an integrated leadership that allows for only few veto points within the domestic political process and by social partners whose hands are partially tied by the chains of ‘trimmed pluralism’. Under these circumstances, the overall multilevel structural-procedural approach of the EES-PCN is rather unfamiliar to British domestic political structures and government traditions. The British NAP-related policy co-ordination process follows the general logics of British policy-making and co-ordination that is characterised by the above described three guiding principles of government: departmental responsibility, Cabinet responsibility and the strong position of the PM (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1). The British part of the EES-PCN is led by the Department of Work and Pension (DWP). Further government departments involved in the domestic procedure setting up the NAP are • the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), concerned with the co-ordination of social partners and responsibility for employment relations legislation; • HM Treasury, responsible for the general orientation and all economic as well as budgetary implications of the British NAP as well as its consistency with the BEPG; • the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), engaged in activities related to training and lifelong learning; and • the Prime Minister’s Office, providing for an overall strategic view on the employment policy and the focus on equal opportunities. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 271 The devolved administrations have authority over topics related to economic development as well as learning and training within their territory. Hence, the ministers for the assemblies or executives of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also part of the British EES-PCN. This multitude of government actors involved already points a rather high degree of complexity of the British national co-ordination process with competences for employment policy divided between different government departments that each drafts the particular part of the NAP falling under its specific responsibility. This complexity is, yet, neutralised by the strong centralisation of policy co-ordination procedures. 4.2.1.1 The Department for Work and Pensions: Pilotage of the British Part of the EES-PCN – Guiding, Steering, and Compiling the UK NAP The DWP is the department responsible for British active labour market policies and legislation and, hence, for most of the British labour market policy framework (interview UK-2, UK-4). Due to proximity in approaches to the activation-focused ‘policy ID’ of the EES, it has become the lead department in charge of EES-related employment policy co-ordination of the British NAP and the overall British input into the EES. It co-ordinates domestic positions on the JER, the EGs, and the recommendations and prepares British negotiation positions for the EPSCO Council (interview UK-1, UK-2). Due to the government principle of departmental responsibility, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions holds the ministerial lead responsibility over the domestic EES process (interview UK-2). According to one government official, the centralised and hierarchical approach of the British part of the EES-PCN is not the least caused by this principle of departmental responsibility. The British NAP is produced by the Joint International Unit (JIU), which is generally responsible for EU related issues. The JIU is located within the DWP, but also serves the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and, thus, the DfES, in which it was located until 2002 (interview UK-5). The JIU delegates officials to the bilateral meeting phase with the Commission and represents the British government within the EMCO. The unit co-ordinates the NAP procedure with the other key government departments, compiles the drafts of the different departments involved, distributes them among the ministries for comments and amendments. It is, moreover, in charge of the final editing of the UK NAP (interview UK-1). Starting the circular process of drafting the British NAP, joint meetings of officials of the different departments involved are held. They provide for the arena for a first exchange of views on the draft JER and recommendations. During these meetings, core elements of the NAP are discussed and selected (interview UK-1). Further on in the process, the departments elaborate the part of the NAP that falls under their particular authority and send them to the JIU for further processing. Moreover, concerning ESF implementation and, hence, the financial support of Art. 129 TEC activities, meetings between the DWP teams involved in the domestic Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 272 NAP procedure and those responsible for the implementation of the ESF take place to co-ordinate activities under in both areas (interview UK-2). This co-ordination between the officials in charge of the NAP and the ESF takes place ad-hoc. After this preparatory process, the JIU agrees the final draft NAP, prepares a coherent document and clears the NAP with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Afterwards, adhering to the government principle of Cabinet responsibility and the British EU-related co-ordination procedure (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1), the draft NAP is send to the Foreign Secretary, communicated to other ministers through the Cabinet Office committee responsible for European Affairs, that is, the COES (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1), and e-mailed to all key participants as well as put on the web sites of the DWP and DfES for public access (interview UK-1, UK-2). This process, set up according to the standard UK process of policy and EU-related co-ordination within the lead department and across Whitehall (ibid.), formally provides for the authorisation for the British NAP to be submitted to the European Commission. Direct bilateral contacts of the British government and EU institutions take place during the bilateral meeting phase, when both the JER and the NAP are drafted. The JIU, additionally, holds informal links to the DG EMPL to ensure that the NAP is well accepted by the European Commission and criticism presented within the evaluation remains sound (interview UK-2). Following the structural idea embedded in the EES, these bilateral meetings are attended by a British delegation–assessed by government actors to be reasonably strong and structured in a very centralist way that mirrors British traditions and the centralised state structure (interview EU-3)– composed of the officials of the different departments involved in the domestic NAP procedure. The delegation, thus, comprises the DWP (leading the delegation; interview UK-2), DTI, DfES, HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office as well as representatives of the devolved administrations and the social partners (CBI, TUC and CEEP- UK, with the latter not participating on a regular basis; interview UK-2, UK-5, EU- 3). According to a Commission official, the delegation represents the UK in a very satisfactory and strong way, except for the social partners whose engagement partially provided for reason for concern (interview EU-3). During the first phase of the EES, the representation of British social partner organisations within these bilateral meetings was rather unstable, leaving cause for suspicion that either their commitment to regular participation was decreasing or their resources to do so where too limited (interview EU-3). Following the structural-procedural model of policy learning and exchange enshrined in the EES, apart from these bilateral meetings at supranational level, bilateral meetings with other member states were held within the peer review/mutual learning programme in order to exchange best practices and information (cf. chapter 3.2.1). In the context of such peer review meetings, British officials, inter alia participated in workshops in Spain, Denmark (DWP officials) or Finland (DTI officials) (interview UK-2). Related to this peer review exercise, yet, problems arose on the particular institutional logics of British employment policy-making that divides competences related to labour law and employment policies between the DTI and DWP. This division is not exactly mirrored in other EU member states and partially Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 273 encumbers access and exchange (interview UK-2). This involvement in exchange of best practices is, however, not limited to the EES. It is also, if not more intensively pursued within the OECD context (interview UK-5; cf. The United Kingdom Parliament 1999a, 1999b and 1999c). 4.2.1.2 The Department of Trade and Industry: Channelling the Social Partners – Business as Usual? While the DWP is in charge of active labour market policies and in lead of the British part of the EES-PCN, the DTI is responsible for British labour market policies, focusing on business regulation, working conditions and labour law (interview UK- 2, UK-4). Given the overall connection of these areas to the collective bargaining agenda, it is also the ministry holding general responsibility for social partner integration into national employment and economic policy-making. Due to this focus and task, the DTI is also the lead ministry to co-ordinate social dialogue and the relations to the British social partners within the domestic NAP process (interview UK-1, UK-2). Moreover, the EGs under the former adaptability pillar are linked to the work of the DTI as they concern working conditions (interview UK-2, UK-5). The DTI steers the British NAP process as far as, for instance, calls for meetings with social partners and their input into the draft NAP are concerned (interview UK- 4, UK-5). Within the DTI, the ‘European and Strategy Team’ of the ‘Employment Relations Directorate’ is occupied with the analysis of European policies. It is in charge of the EES-related activities and stakeholders’ contacts as well as input in the broader policy field (interview UK-2). The DTI holds direct bilateral contacts to the European Commission, the EP, and to some extent also to the European social partners. Yet, contacts with the Commission usually comprise different actors than those involved in the bilateral meetings on the NAP and, hence, interlink the DTI with different parts of DG EMPL (ibid.). Moreover, regular annual contacts have been established to other member states. They are, yet, not only related to the EES, but to the department’s overall field of competences. The regular approach of the DTI, and of the UK government in general, to social partner integration (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1) is to closely involve them in consultations already during an early phase of domestic policy preparation. The precise nature of involvement varies according to the subject of regulation. With a view to their involvement into the national political process, social partners are gaining in importance at the regional level due to their participation in the Regional Development Agencies (RDA). The RDA provide social partners with an arena and a more proactive remit for the strategic development of local and regional policies on employment ‘on the ground’ (interview UK-2, UK-4; cf. below). Nevertheless, apart from these more formalised fora, there are no formal domestic structures for tripartite social dialogue and social partner consultation. Also very little national bilateral social dialogue structures between the two sides of the economy are to be witnessed Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 274 given that most collective bargaining is voluntarist and takes place at local or enterprise level (ibid., UK-4; cf. chapter 2.2.1.1). Most tripartite social dialogue activities take place in education and training, while in other employment related areas it tends to be more on the bilateral basis (interview UK-4). The rather open, informalised, flexible, and selective approach (ibid.) applied is assessed to ensure the involvement of social partners not affiliated to the large national social partner flagships, such as corporations, maternity groups or groups of unemployed and inactive persons. It is, thus, perceived to prevent access monopolisation to the political process (ibid., UK- 3). The integration of social partners into the preparation of the British NAP by the DTI is strongly focused on the topics of flexibility and working conditions related to the adaptability pillar. It serves to collect and outline examples of their activities in the field (interview UK-5). The degree of participation varies in intensity and style, but is assessed to be as effective as possible and to include all relevant levels (interview UK-2). The national tradition of ad-hoc, rather temporary and selective social partner consultation through the DTI (interview UK-3, UK-4; cf. chapter 2.2.1.1)–even if deepening and becoming more formalised under the EES than under British ‘social partner business as usual’ (interview UK-2, UK-3)–clashes with the overall idea of the EES to involve social partners on a more stable base. It, moreover, limits their input and has, therefore, led the supranational level to repeatedly criticise the British tripartite social dialogue within its recommendations for not being sufficiently institutionalised (cf. chapter 5.1). In defence of the domestic tradition, officials of the DTI assess its social dialogue approach to be more problem-focused, issue-targeted, and flexible than that of most of the other EU member states. The department is, thus, rather reluctant to adapt it to the recommendations and the social dialogue paradigm of the EES (interview UK-2, UK-4). So, in this case, stable national traditions of co-ordination practice through the DTI mark a veto point for institutional isomorphism concerning social partner integration to be inspired by the EES. 4.2.1.3 Her Majesty’s Treasury: Paramount Economic Overlook – Who Pays, Surveys HM Treasury holds the general economic overview on the British NAP. This task is based on its general lead on the national budget process within which it sets up delivery targets for each department. Related to the NAP it has an overall interest in domestic employment development to support economic growth, productivity and Welfare-to-Work policies (interview UK-1, UK-4; cf. chapter 5.1). It is, yet, far less involved in the process of setting up the NAP than the Ministry of Finances in the German case (cf. chapter 4.3.1.1). HM Treasury is not in lead of any particular pillar. It rather sets the British NAP into the broader economic and budgetary frame, especially focusing on the Euro and on the labour market flexibility related potential of the EES to feed into the analysis of the ‘five tests’ (interview UK-1; cf. chapter Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 275 3.3). Within HM Treasury, a two-man team is responsible for the department’s input into the NAP. The overall NAP work of the Treasury, due to limited resources, could be defined as “smaller scrutineering rather than policy analysis” (interview UK-1). The team is located within the ‘Work and Pensions Team’ of the ‘EU Employment and Social Affairs’ unit. It is generally dealing with the Luxembourg process, monitoring directives on EU employment policy during the negotiation stage, preparing British negotiation positions and providing inner- and inter-departmental feed-back on supranational legislation in preparation. Links to the ESF work of the Treasury are not established directly by the team and the BEPG are dealt with within the Treasury’s ‘European Economic Reform Team’ to which the Work and Pensions Team holds close links. After the 2003 streamlining, the Work and Pensions Team also got involved in the alignment of the EGs and the BEPG. To fulfil its EES-related tasks, the Work and Pensions Team did not develop direct contacts to supranational institutions. Such contacts are all channelled by the respective lead departments (ibid.). Once supranational employment legislation and the NAP are adopted, responsibility shifts to the Treasury’s Labour Market Policy team. Hence, the NAP procedure is actually one of the few processes that interlink the Work and Pensions Team of the EU Employment and Social Affairs unit with domestic implementation and the work of the ‘Labour Market Policy Team’. Within this separate Labour Market Policy Team, 15 officials concentrate on domestic employment and labour market policy-making. Via inter-departmental networks, they are interlinked with the DWP’s Domestic Labour Market and Employment Policy Team. Thus, competences for delivering input into domestic employment policy formation and into the NAP co-ordination are divided between the two teams of the Treasury. Knowledge is spread among the units involved through intensive communication. The Treasury’s Labour Market Policy Team also participated in the EES’s peer review/mutual learning programme in the past, visiting for instance France to share knowledge on the national tax credit system, which was then taken up by the British government, or Denmark for exchange on domestic policy approaches, the latter being partially perceived as a European benchmark also for the UK (ibid.). Due to the splitting of responsibilities for employment policies between the two involved units in HM Treasury, overlap emerges. So, the two teams are plugged into each other through intensive networking to exchange information on their particular work, yet, without any ‘conservative bringing together’ of the European aspects and the domestic aspects at this particular network level. Contacts to social partners do not exist as they are centrally steered by the DTI (ibid.). Once the draft NAP is communicated by the DWP to the Work and Pensions Team of HM Treasury’s EU Employment and Social Affairs unit, the team leader circulates it to the other units involved, asking for their comments in order to prepare the official feed-back to the DWP. Although this response is envisaged to follow rather bureaucratic official procedures, a lot of communication ‘goes on behind the scenes’, inter alia in telephone calls between the DWP’s JIU and HM Treasury’s Work and Pensions Team (ibid.). Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 276 4.2.1.4 The ‘Others’: No. 10, the DfES, Parliament and the Devolved Administrations – Additional Protagonists or the Play’s Extras? Adhering to the British government tradition of PM leadership, the Prime Minister’s Office, ‘No. 10’, is involved in the British part of the EES-PCN via the regular British policy co-ordination process. It holds an overall view on employment policies and the EES. The Prime Minister sets up priorities for domestic economic and employment reforms to deliver social justice as well as economic growth. He/She, moreover, defines the focus of the UK’s input into European initiatives. The Prime Minister’s Office, hence, also holds the lead position in view of supranational developments and bottom-up Europeanisation (interview UK-2). Within No. 10, the ‘Women and Equality Policy’ unit is dealing especially with the contents of the former equal opportunities pillar. It is assessed to be a rather mono-focused and large group of officials dealing with one specific aspect of the EES (interview UK-1, UK-4, UK-5). Departmental contacts with No. 10 are held via special ministerial advisers– political appointees in-between civil servant and MP–to the Secretaries of States within single departments (interview UK-1). Social partners also hold contacts to No. 10, albeit not always assessed to be convenient (interview UK-4). The DfES co-ordinates contacts with the regional level and the devolved administrations in areas under the competences of the latter, such as education and training (interview UK-1, UK-5). The focus of work is related to lifelong learning aspects of the EES and, therefore, contacts to the regional Learning and Skills Council as well as to the RDA are dealt with in this particular department (cf. below). Parliament can be consulted and/or informed on the NAP by the government. This has, however, not been frequently the case during the first phase of the EES. Within Parliament, two committees provide for the integration of parliamentary positions into the NAP procedure: the Treasury Select Committee in charge of budgetary aspects of national policies and the Select Committee on Work and Pensions responsible for the deliberation and decision preparation on national employment policies. Yet, within these committees and within the plenary, discussion of the EES and the NAP has rarely taken place. Besides the 1998 Parliament study on the EES, no significant documents have been produced since. The committee secretariat employs its own liaison officer to the European Parliament to monitor the socioeconomic policy co-ordination of the EU (Hodson 2004:303). The regional devolved administrations are integrated into the British part of the EES-PCN via the DfES in all areas that affect their regional competences, such as particular related to the local Learning and Skills Councils and RDA (interview UK- 1, UK-3, UK-4). This integration includes dialogue between the central state government and the regions on strategies concerning education, learning and skills policies (interview UK-5), neighbourhood renewal policies and, since 2002/03, also the RAPs and LAPs (interview UK-4) to strengthen the local dimension of the British part of the EES-PCN. At the same time, the NAP process is, however, not regarded to provide a profound input into these activities given that the British trade and Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 277 employment system, due to the centralised state structure, is steered by national institutions rather than regional or local structures (interview UK-4). Nevertheless, the potential of the EES to impact at regional and local level has been assessed to be very positive and to have even increased over the lifetime of the EES (ibid.). 4.2.1.5 The Social Partners: British Social Dialogue Traditions and the UK Part of the EES-PCN – Strait-Jacket for New Ways of Policy Co-ordination? The main social partner organisations involved in the establishment of the British NAP are the CBI, TUC, and CEEP-UK. Among them, CEEP-UK plays a minor role (interview UK-5) and has not been involved in the NAP procedure from its very beginning in 1998. According to a CEEP-UK representative, this secondary position might have been the result of CEEP-UK just becoming involved in supranational policy-making since 2001/02. From this year on, due to participation in supranational social dialogue activities, it is assessed to have also become more relevant within the domestic NAP arena (interview UK-5). In the process of involving social partners, the DTI concentrates on exchange related to their particular responsibilities under the former adaptability pillar. Yet, as an exemption to the aspects of this pillar, activities focusing on work organisation– due to missing central collective bargaining–are regulated in a rather decentralised way, partially at company level. Given this limitation, the focus of social partner involvement was broadened by the DTI proposal to draft relevant parts of NAP falling into their competences and negotiating a compromise between potentially divergent positions themselves (cf. below). These text elements are highlighted as italics in the NAPs. During the first phase of the EES, meetings between the TUC, the CBI and CEEP-UK, including local government and the National Health Service, and the DTI were held early each year before the drafting of the particular NAP part. Meetings were, moreover, held on the draft part itself, once it was established by the DTI. At the request of social partners, this first discussion of the contents of the NAP and the first draft was advanced to December in order to relax timetables and agendas. During the preparatory phase of the British NAP, the TUC, CBI, and partially also CEEP-UK are, thus, consulted before the DTI drafts the parts related to adaptability measures (interview UK-3, UK-4, UK-5). After this first trilateral consultative meeting, the DTI prepares the NAP draft under its responsibility, which is again discussed with the social partners in order to integrate their comments before submitting the final draft to the JIU (interview UK-2; cf. chapter 4.1.1.2). Their comments are then again taken into account and integrated into the draft NAP (cf. Hodson 2004:302f.). As of January 2002, an additional first meeting is held on the selection of social partners’ activities, initiatives, and proposals to be integrated (interview UK-3). At the initiative of the DTI, this procedure has changed during the first phase of the EES. The social partners are now asked to draft the relevant parts of the NAP Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 278 themselves (interview UK-3, UK-4, UK-5). Given the official character of the NAP as a government document, social partners–as in Germany (cf. chapter 4.2.2.4)– were, yet, initially reluctant to accept this new and further responsibilities for implementation (interview UK-4, UK-5). Under the new procedural arrangements, as one social partner representative remarked, the influence of the social partners on the NAP became, however, more productive (interview UK-3). As a result of increased social partner consultation, with additional meetings to prepare the annual procedure and further bilateral meetings, some changes were introduced to the NAP especially on the request of the social partners. Before these 2002 changes, the government approach vis-à-vis change proposed by the social partners was perceived to have been less co-operative. Social partners’ perception of the pre-2002 phase was that they were merely asked to comment on a government text within a formal consultation process imposed by the EES. Their remarks were, however, not perceived to have been taken up as in the case with TUC’s comments on the problem of early intervention (interview UK-4, UK-5; cf. chapter 5.1). Given the developments since 2002, according to one social partner official, the British government got more relaxed about the real impact of consultation of social partners (interview UK-4). The joint preparation of the NAP was, thus, assessed to have improved (interview UK-3). After the submission of the British NAP to the Commission, British social partners also partake in the bilateral meeting phase in Brussels. In 2002, an additional preparatory meeting was held in London before the September Brussels bilateral meeting. This meeting in London comprised all domestic actors involved in order to ex ante discuss potential criticism and prepare lines of argumentation (interview UK-3). As mentioned above, the input of social partners generally focuses on the old EGs 13 and 15 (cf. table 51) as well as on modernisation of work organisation, enhancing adaptability, quality of work, productivity, reducing the gender pay gap and other more general aspects of social partnership (interview UK-2 and UK-3). Given this limited focus, some social partners involved also assess their role more as that of a subsidiary player in the British NAP procedure (interview UK-3). Moreover, in order to avoid duplication of competencies and processes with the rather ad-hoc consultation on single policies, co-ordination and exchange of the social partners with the DTI is strictly on the NAP content and not on national government policies in general. Apart from their integration into the domestic NAP process, social partners have been involved in additional tasks, such as by contributing to the implementation of the productivity initiative or to a special taskforce, monitoring work-life balance issues. The latter comprises the CBI, TUC, individual employers, and parents groups (NGOs) and focuses, among other things, on the preparation of legislation related to flexible working for parents (interview UK-3, UK-4, UK-5). With a view to their overall input into their part of the NAP, social partners are assessed by DTI officials to be focusing on their particular policy priorities that means on working conditions, education and skills or changes of best practice in Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 279 terms of the productivity initiative. They are furthermore viewed to assess their participation as valuable (interview UK-2). Generally, however, their input has been perceived to be more apparent in terms of policy development and consultation on the ideas. Implementation on the ground has been less of a focus, given that both the CBI and the TUC do not dispose over formalised powers to bind their members. Yet, due to their increasing engagement in European activities and agreements, responsibilities for implementation were viewed to unavoidably be increasing also in the UK (ibid.). As to social partners’ positions, the TUC largely welcomes New Labour’s employment policies. It “supports the ‘welfare to work’ strategy but identifies the treatment of the long-term unemployed and the equality agenda as ‘areas where there are weaknesses’” (Eironline 2002c:2). TUC assesses the British part of the EES-PCN to be an acceptable framework, but remarked that domestic difficulties with the EES derived from the fact “that the UK doesn’t actively engage with the guidelines” (ibid.:3). In contrast to TUC, CBI is rather satisfied with the overall shape of the EGs and the British NAP (interview UK-3). CBI especially supports employability measures, the overall policy mix approach of the EES and the government commitment to flexibility and adaptability of the labour market (cf. interview UK-3). Yet, it opts for the EGs to be concentrated more on employment promotion and job creation than on employment protection and highlights the benefits of benchmarking and information exchange exercises under the EES (cf. ibid.). CEEP-UK, concentrates on the regional and local dimension of the EES, the support for public services and the structural modernisation of work within local government (interview UK-5). It represents the economic area in which sectoral agreements exist and, hence, is equipped with special experiences to input into the domestic NAP procedure (interview UK-2). Apart from sharing common views, the overall relationship between the CBI and CEEP-UK is assessed to be quite problematic due to the alleged exclusive right to employers’ representations of the former (interview UK-5). In view of the general institutionalisation of tripartite social dialogue in the policy field, due to national traditions (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1), only few permanent arrangements are to be recognised (interview UK-4, cf. chapter 2.2.1.1 and 2.2.2.1), even if activities since 1998 visibly increased (Eironline 2002c:2; cf. chapter 4.2.1.3). Moreover, tripartite social dialogue meetings at national level are rather rare in the UK. The government prefers to encounter the two sides of the economy separately within bilateral meetings on special policy proposals and activities (interview UK-2). Bilateral contacts of public sector social partner organisations (including CEEP-UK) and the government are, yet, assessed to be more frequent, because union representation in the public sector is higher than in the rest of the economy (ibid.). As a result of the rather few bilateral social dialogue activities, meetings between the TUC, CEEP-UK and the CBI in connection with the NAP are also rather rare (interview UK-2). As to one government official, this missing social dialogue tradition is also the main reason for the stronger input of the social partners Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 280 into policy development and formulation than into the implementation of policies (ibid.). Given these distinctive characteristics of British social dialogue since the trimming of the structures under the Thatcher administration (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1), no deeply rooted tradition of institutionalised tripartite social dialogue is to be found (cf. interview UK-4). Hence, no inherited structures could be adapted and new ones had to be established to serve the EES since 1997. Yet, given this domestic tradition of ‘trimmed’ pluralism, the institutionalisation of consultation of national social partners through the government within the NAP process is more difficult than in Germany. Difficulties especially arise, because national social partners have to adapt to their new role within the NAP procedure and the government has to accept them as new players within the domestic and supranational political arena. Hence, the belts of the old strait-jacket had to be untied and tied again according to the new ideas of the EES. On the background of the missing domestic (tripartite) social dialogue traditions, the NAP procedure is quite unusual for the British political system insofar as it brings together social partner organisations and the government within an institutionalised annual framework of policy co-ordination (interview UK-4; cf. above). Exceptions to the rule of bilateral consultations are more recent developments linked to activation measures and policies, integrating both the TUC and CBI within broader consultation and implementation networks. In this context, some permanent tripartite bodies, such as the Low Pay Commission (setting up the national minimum wage) or the Learning and Skills Council (controlling training programmes) were set up in the framework of New Labour’s New Deal Programmes (cf. chapter 5.1; interview UK-4). Social partners have, moreover, been involved in other specific activities and tasks, such as the productivity initiative or the special task force on worklife balance issues, bringing together members of the CBI, TUC, individual employers, and NGOs also to develop legislative proposals such as the right to request flexible working hours for parents (cf. Eironline 2002c:2; interview UK-4). Moreover, RDAs have been established in line with the EES and have, ever since, gained importance. The RDAs bring together trade unions, employers’ organisations, and the government at regional level. They implement a more proactive approach in view of developing local and regional policies on employment with more strategic input into regional and local development (interview UK-2, UK-4; cf. chapter 5.1). All three social partner organisations involved deal with the EES within their departments responsible for employment policy, industrial relations, and pensions. The CBI, for instance, deals with the EES in its ‘Human Resources Policy Directorate’, responsible for employment and social affairs, welfare-to-work aspects, education and skills issues, discrimination topics, atypical working, industrial relations, trade unions contacts, pensions as well as European social policy and the ESF (interview UK-3). The TUC is handling the topic within its ‘Economic and Social Affairs Department’, while within CEEP-UK one to two policy officers are responsible for the topic. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 281 With this approach, all British social partner organisations embedded the EESrelated co-ordination and preparation of their contribution to the domestic NAP process into their employment and labour market related structures without creating entirely new institutional arrangements. Furthermore, member organisations and member corporations are integrated into setting up general positions and into the preparation of own policy proposals throughout the year. Most of these activities are, yet, not particularly focused on the EES, but rather on domestic policies in general (interview UK-3). The relevant draft part of the NAP is circulated to the organisations’ affiliates and relevant committees, asking for their particular input and comments as well as for examples of good practice to feed into NAP, as in the case of TUC and CEEP-UK (interview UK-5). The CBI has not established such a practice (interview UK-3). Responses from the affiliates are, however, assessed to be rather rare given their relative distance from the NAP procedure (interview UK-5). As a consequence of the institutional adaptation process to create a feasible inner-organisational way of dealing with the EES, path-dependent adjustment predominated institution-building from scratch. The government’s approach of social partner integration into the domestic NAP procedure is partially assessed to be more focused on mere information exchange than the real further development of the NAP (interview UK-4), even if–on the other hand–government officials explicitly assess social partners’ input as important and valuable (interview UK-2). Yet, the perception of some government officials also indicates that social partners were not as interested in the broader context of the EES as they were in adaptability aspects or workforce development skills. The NAP itself is assessed by social partners to be rather a report on government activities than a document that drives policy or a policy delivery mechanism (interview EU-3). It is perceived to be an instrument rarely used to proactively put forward entirely new policy proposals. This, on the contrary, would rather be done through the regular domestic employment policy procedure, involving social partner consultations in bilateral meetings (interview EU-5, UK-4, UK-5). During the first phase of the EES, additional criticism was expressed on the annual reporting and monitoring cycle. It was assessed to be too resource-consuming and not really prepared to give domestic reforms room and time to impact (interview UK-4, UK-5). Hence, the extension of the cycle to three years in 2003 was welcome. Within the perpetual annual cycle of the first phase of the EES, British social partners, like European social partners’ organisations, partially felt structurally overburdened by the tight EU-imposed timetable to react to the draft NAP. Moreover, TUC, in line with the Council recommendations and in contrast to CBI, was assessed to promote the domestic social dialogue to become more institutionalised in order to more powerfully influence domestic decision-making (interview UK-3). In general and regardless of the above provisions to integrate social partners into the British part of the EES-PCN, the UK is often assessed to not have “developed a ‘comprehensive partnership’ with the social partners for the implementation, monitoring and follow-up of the European employment strategy in the sense of having a Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 282 single institutional framework for their involvement” (Eironline 2002c:2). Taking up this criticism, TUC especially complained about the missing strategy of social partnership originating in the absent tradition of social and tripartite dialogue in the UK (interview EU-3, UK-4), a fact also subject to annual Commission criticism and the country-specific recommendations to the UK. This critique is “perhaps reflecting the greater importance trade unions attach to active labour market planning and the formal tripartite structures for consulting the social partners on government policy development” (Eironline 2002c:4). Moreover, TUC bemoaned the wording of the NAP to remain by and large the same regardless of their comments, while CBI assessed their remarks were taken sufficiently into account (cf. Eironline 2002c:1). Taking the opposite position to TUC, CBI perceives no need for the further institutionalisation of social dialogue and is satisfied with the rather un-bureaucratic and flexible way social partnership in view of the British part of the EES-PCN (interview UK-3). CEEP-UK would prefer earlier consultations on the draft NAP and integration into the implementation and evaluation, which would facilitate the input into the subsequent NAP (interview UK-5). In view of their general integration into the British part of the EES-PCN, the social partners, apart from the above critique and the rather tight timetable for delivery, are by and large satisfied with the overall structural-procedural provisions. They perceive themselves to be integrated as early as the process allows for (interview UK-3, UK-4, UK-5). This satisfaction mirrors the overall contentment with the flexible British social partnership approach in general, including bilateral activities outlined above. Nevertheless, some actors also assess themselves to serve the government just as ‘information givers’ rather than as partners for policy formulation and implementation within the framework of the NAP (interview UK-5). With a view to British social partners’ performance under the EES, European officials regarded TUC to be more enthusiastic about participating in the bilateral meetings at the European level, while CBI would be more sceptical to the added value of the EES (interview EU-3). Generally, British social partners are assessed not to be as enthusiastic about the EES as other member states’ social partners (ibid.). They still largely concentrate on direct lobbying of the British government, holding close links to the different departments (interview UK-4) and to the Commission in view of special policy proposals rather than trying to more profoundly institutionalise their participation within the EES (interview EU-3). While direct contacts to other member states’ social partner organisations and European institutions (with the Director General of DG EMPL being quite involved) exist on an informal basis or in the framework of the bilateral meetings related to the EES (ibid.), most input into the supranational part of the EES-PCN is channelled via European social partners’ organisations. CBI is represented and closely interlinked with UNICE (interview UK-3), while the TUC is represented through the ETUC and CEEP-UK via CEEP. CEEP-UK is integrated at European level exclusively by CEEP, even if CEEP-UK, because of the privatisation of huge parts of the British public sectors, is quite different from other CEEP members (interview UK-5). CEEP-UK, thus, disposes over a very dense network of contacts to the CEEP social Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 283 affairs and transport committees as well as to other CEEP affiliates. It is involved in several activities to evaluate the member states’ best practices and NAPs as well as the overall EES, trying to influence the Commission to give more emphasis on social partner involvement within future reforms. Direct contacts to the Commission are held directly via CEEP (ibid., EU-3). Even if the TUC established a permanently staffed office in Brussels, it is rather satisfied to leave supranational lobbying on the EES to the (highly trusted) ETUC/ETUI to whom also the draft UK NAP is send for evaluation (interview UK- 4). This trust-based relation might also be caused by the interweavement of personnel between TUC and ETUC, with many former TUC officials working for ETUC, including the former Secretary General of TUC, who became EUTC Secretary General in 2003 (ibid.). 4.2.1.6 Interim Assessment: The UK Part of the EES-PCN - ‘Doing it the British Way’ in the Shadow of Centralisation The British part of the EES-PCN consists of nine institutional actors and groups of actors that participate to varying degrees in the domestic procedure of setting up the NAP and implementing the EES. Their involvement follows the institutional logics of the British political system and government traditions. From within the system, the British NAP process is perceived to be rather complex and ‘quite a blurry area’ of a multitude of interweaved interactions and institutionalised actor constellations, not familiar to British government traditions (interview UK-1) of integrated leadership, centralised polity, and ‘trimmed’ pluralism (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1). So, the EMLG logic of the EES actually challenges UK government practices, which embed the EES into existing domestic processes ‘doing the NAP procedure the British way’ in the shadow of centralisation rather than adapting domestic institutional set ups and underlying cognitive/normative structures–such as institutional, structural or procedural traditions–to the multilevel approach of the EES. This unfamiliarity with multilevel policy-making is additionally nurtured by the centralised state structure with only few competences devolved to the regions. The interactions of actors involved at national and supranational level are structured in a centralised way, providing for clear process leadership and hierarchical process steering. Although the scope of institutional actors or groups of actors involved is rather large, only a very limited number of officials–merely two to five per department or organisation–are indeed directly engaged in the process of setting up the NAP. They form quite a closed expert circle that is rather invisible to the public, but also to decision-makers outside this particular British NAP advocacy coalition, with the EES being almost anonymous in the domestic context (interview EU-3, UK-4). As a consequence, the spreading of knowledge gained by participation in the peer review/mutual learning programme as well as the feedback of new ideas and best practices into domestic employment policies is partially rendered more difficult Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 284 by the separation of domestic employment policy-making circles and the circle of officials engaged in setting up the NAP. Regarding the functional aspects of the UK part of the EES-PCN, the DWP can be identified as the lead department, although it does not hold exclusive competences over the policy areas affected by the EES. Within the DWP, the JIU executes this functional lead and holds tight contacts to the other actors involved. The DWP is assisted by the DTI, because of the latter’s exclusive competence of centralised social partner integration into the NAP procedure. Besides these two core actors, two other government departments–the DfES and HM Treasury–are involved, following the principle of departmental responsibility over their respective policy areas and including the outstanding budgetary survey position of the Chancellor. The involvement of the Cabinet office and the PM’s office pays tribute to the other two principles of British government activity. Yet, these two principles can be assessed not to be as intensively operational under the EES as in domestic policy-making (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1). Although the UK disposes over a long-established parliamentary tradition, the British NAP procedure, during the first phase of the EES, has been characterised by a very low degree of parliamentarisation, adding to the low public visibility and missing transparency of the strategy within the domestic arena. Hence, the few existing veto points of the British political system (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1) do not become operational in view of the domestic NAP process. Graph 12: The British Part of the EES-PCN Department for Work and Pensions (Co-ordination of the British part of the EES-PCN) ---------------------------------- Joint International Unit (Production/co-ordination of the British NAP) Department for Work and Pensions (Co-ordination of the British part of the EES-PCN) ---------------------------------- Joint International Unit (Production/co-ordination of the British NAP) Department for Trade and Industry (Lead ministry for the co-ordination of social partnership) Department for Trade and Industry (Lead ministry for the co-ordination of social partnership) Department for Education and Skills (Lifelong learning) Department for Education and Skills (Lifelong learning) Social Partners CBI, TUC and CEEP-UK Social Partners CBI, TUC and CEEP-UK HM Treasury (General economic overview on the NAP / Consistency with the BEPG) HM Treasury (General economic overview on the NAP / Consistency with the BEPG) Devolved Administrations Devolved Administrations Parliament Parliament Prime Minister‘s Office (No. 10) Prime Minister‘s Office (No. 10)Cabinet Office (COES) Cabinet Office (COES) Source: Own design. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 285 According to officials involved in setting up the British NAP, the balance between interests of actors involved in the British part of the EES-PCN has largely been achieved through the continuity of involvement of the same officials over the first phase of the EES and beyond (interview UK-2, UK-3). Moreover, during the first phase, regular government co-ordination procedures across Whitehall as well as existing lines of communication and interaction were applied and have proven to work effectively (interview UK-1; cf. chapter 2.2.1.1). No special body or units– neither within the departments involved nor on the social partner side–have been set up to deal exclusively with the British NAP process or the EES. Partially, those units dealing with the EU Social chapter took over these responsibilities (interview UK-1) and units responsible for the NAP have been additionally linked to those dealing with the ESF. The EES is assessed to have intensified interactions of the relevant units and departments. Moreover, some details have been taken over from comparable coordination models, such as the ESF with existing inter-departmental (formal and informal) network interaction (ibid., UK-5). Hence, domestic institutional adaptation to the new supranational multilevel employment policy co-ordination paradigm remained weak and was rather path-dependently based on existing institutional arrangements. Additionally, not many traces of strong institutional adaptation to the social partnership paradigm of the EES are to be witnessed during the first phase of the EES. Such adaptation was assessed to clearly overestimate the value of the British NAP process for tripartite social dialogue. Yet, practice changed and became intensified during the second phase of the EES (cf. chapter 5.1), indicating at an impact of the strategy on the further formalisation of domestic social dialogue. Measuring the concrete institutional impact of the EES within the UK is, however, to some extent difficult, because changes coincided with the change of government and the coming into office of New Labour in 1997 (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1) that was accompanied by institutional re-arrangements of different government departments, reflecting the political priorities of the incoming government (interview UK- 1, UK-2). The change of government also impacted on the integration of social partners, bringing especially TUC more intensively back into the political process (interview UK-2). Hence, the EES has been assessed to have put focus on (tripartite) social dialogue, improving the systemic environment even for the already renewed approach to social partner integration under New Labour. It intensified social partner participation in national employment policy co-ordination. This development indicates at first signs of alignment to the cognitive/normative structures of social partnership embedded in the EES, even if no new institutionalised framework, that means no special domestic tripartite social dialogue structure, has been set up (interview UK-1, UK-2, UK-4, UK-5). The EES can, thus, be evaluated as stimulating steps away from domestic traditions of ‘trimmed pluralism’ and as a sort of ‘mini’ institutional adaptation to the European structural-procedural provisions related to social partnership embedded in the EES. Yet, remaining hierarchical asymmetry–as generally the case in British policy-making (cf. chapter 2.2.1.1)–points at a strong gatekeeper position of governmental actors in relation to the social partners. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 286 Asymmetry is also an overall feature of social partner involvement, with only the three big flagships CBI, TUC, and CEEP-UK participating in drafting the NAP. Smaller organisations are placed at a disadvantage. Regardless of this visible impact, the EES did not have the power to entirely ‘transplant’ the supranational tripartite social dialogue model onto the British policymaking process (interview UK-2, UK-4). Nevertheless, both the EES and continuing Commission criticism impacted insofar as they reinforced a partial formalisation of social partner contacts within the framework of the NAP procedure compared to earlier British traditions (interview UK-2). As a consequence, according to social partner representatives involved, the NAP and the formal consultation process related to it are an exception to the rather underdeveloped tripartite social dialogue practice in the UK as far as their involvement related to the aims of the former adaptability pillar is concerned (interview UK-3, UK-4). It provides social partners with additional influence at supranational level to make their voice heard during the bilateral meeting phase with the Commission and via their involvement in supranational social partner organisations’ activities. Yet, given the limitation to one particular area of the EES and the structural-procedural isolation from national employment policy-making, the British NAP process until 2003/04 remained rather unlinked to domestic policy-making activities and to the implementation of employment policies. 4.2.2 German Employment Policy Co-ordination: Fragmented Leadership, De-Centralised Polity, ‘Corporatist Style’ Pluralism, Several Veto Points, and the EES – ‘Brothers in Mind’? Compared to the centralised structure of the British part, the German end of the EES-PCN is structured more complex, decentralised, and multitiered, quite closely mirroring the particularities of EMLG (interview D-3). The de-centralised polity, favouring fragmented leadership and leading towards the emergence of several veto points within the political system as well as a ‘corporatist style’ pluralism support the overall systemic proximity of Germany and the EU (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Hence, it is not odd to suppose that EMLG employment policy co-ordination under the EES–including strong social partnership and the co-ordination of a multitude of political actors and levels–is not strange to German traditions and structuralprocedural practice. As in the case of the UK, two key departments can be identified, leading the domestic process of setting up the NAP and steering the German part of the EES-PCN. Moreover, the German EES-PCN consists of a multitude of political actors. This composition not only pays tribute to the strong tradition of multilevel inner- and inter-departmental co-ordination. It, moreover, also reflects the three guiding principles of German federal government: ministerial responsibility (‘Ressortprinzip’), cabinet responsibility (‘Kabinettsprinzip’) and the ‘chancellor principle’ (‘Richtlinienkompetenz’) within a multilevel system of co-operative federalism (cf. chapter

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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.