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Gaby Umbach, German Employment Policy Co-ordination: Fragmented Leadership, De-Centralised Polity, ‘Corporatist Style’ Pluralism, Several Veto Points, and the EES – ‘Brothers in Mind’? in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 286 - 304

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 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 Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 287 2.2.1.2). Caused by the multitude of actors involved, more complex interactions have been established within the German EES-PCN, giving especially social partners a broad range of access points to the political process of setting up the German NAP. The key players of the German part of the EES-PCN are the • Ministry of Finance (Bundesministerium für Finanzen/BMF), • Ministry of Economics and Labour (2002/03 – 2005: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Arbeit/BMWA; until 2002/03 Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung/BMA). While the BMF generally steered the overall NAP process and held procedural leadership from 1998 to 2002/03, the BMWA was responsible for the wide range of employment policy-related input into the EES from 2002/03 onwards. Before the official restructuring of the ministries in 2002/03 (cf. below), the BMA was responsible for the first and the third pillar of the EES, while the Ministry for Economics and Technology was responsible for the strategy’s second pillar. The institutional redesign and alteration of tasks between these two core actors in 2002/03 were no reaction to the EES. They were caused by the institutional re-arrangement after general elections, accompanied by shift in divisions of competences between these two ministries. The German part of the EES-PCN, moreover, includes the • Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), mainly responsible for the first pillar of the EES and the coordination of the Länder input into the NAP procedure; • Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ), particularly concerned with the gender mainstreaming approach and with related parts of the fourth pillar; • Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt), mirroring the ministries and having an overarching view on the policy co-ordination under the NAP procedure; • Social partners (mainly BDA, DGB, and ver.di); and • Representatives of the federal states and local associations (interview D-3; graph 14). To a very limited degree, also the Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG) and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz, BMELV) are involved in areas falling under their ministerial responsibilities. Until the merger of the BMA and the Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, BMWi) after the September 2002 general elections, the German EES-PCN was made up of even more actors, including the BMF, BMA, BMWi, the BMBF, the BMFSFJ, the Chancellery, BDA, DGB and ver.di as well as representatives of the federal states and local associations (cf. graph 13). Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 288 The different ministries and actors involved are in charge of preparing the respective part of the German NAP falling under their policy authority, including data collection and compilation (interview D-2, D-3). 4.2.2.1 The Ministry of Finance: Pulling the Strings – Technical Lead as a Matter of Principle At the time of the inception of the EES in 1997, the Division for General Economic and Financial Policy Planning (Department I, Grundsatzfragen der Finanz- und Wirtschaftspolitik; also known as ‘Grundsatzreferat’) within the BMWi was the lead unit of the German part of the EES-PCN. Caused by the re-arrangement of the ministries after the 1998 general election (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2), the Grundsatzreferat and, hence, also the technical lead of the German NAP process was transferred to the BMF (interview D-3). The BMF Department I took formally over the technical lead until 2002/03, when the BMWA took over again (ibid., D-2). Adding to its integration into the domestic NAP process, the BMF budget department (Department II) comprises mirror units for every ministry, including one for the BMWA, monitoring domestic employment policies and labour market strategies and evaluating their budgetary implications (interview D-3). Yet, this evaluation focuses more generally on the economic aspects of employment policies than on the benefit of proposed policies for economic development and job creation. Department II and I are procedurally interlinked (ibid.). Without being able to overall assess the correctness of the single ministries’ contributions in detail, hence, reliant on the competence of the BMA/BMWA, the BMF department I B 2 (Arbeitsmarkt- und Sozialpolitik/Labour Market and Social Policy) of the Grundsatzreferat comprised two officials. They dealt with the co-ordination of the EES and technically controlled the de-centralised process of drafting the single parts of the German NAP, pulling the technical strings of the German NAP process until 2002/03 (ibid.). They compiled the draft parts from the ministries involved and established the final coherent version of the NAP. With this task, the department was functionally equivalent to the JIU within the British DWP. Interestingly, this function was not located within the EU unit of the BMF, but rather within the Economic and Financial division of the Grundsatzreferat, indicating at the special position of the EES as a supranational policy co-ordination process. Although the BMF led the domestic co-ordination of the NAP in Germany during that first phase of the EES, it only held limited direct contacts to the European Commission concerning the EES (interview D-3, EU-2). Before EMCO meetings, the BMF was requested to deliver input for the preparation of agenda topics. Afterwards, it was informed via the normal inter-ministerial EU-related co-ordination procedure on the outcome of EMCO meetings by the BMWA (interview D-2; cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). As a result, practically only the BMWA (the former BMA) delegated officials to these EMCO meetings at the European level (interview D-3). Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 289 Nevertheless and although they did not frequently participate, BMF officials dealing with the EES were neither formally nor informally excluded from participating in bilateral meetings with the Commission or from EMCO meetings. In fact, bilateral meetings with DG EMPL’s Directorate C and DG ECFIN have been reported during the first phase of the EES. They, yet, not exclusively concentrated on the EES, but rather focused on its link to the implementation the labour market related recommendations of the BEPG (interview EU-2). Due to their general workload, BMF officials, however, only rarely attend supranational meetings (interview D-3). Even if direct EES-related contacts between the Department I B 2 and EU institutions on the EES were rather rare, officials of the department represent German positions also related to employment policies and the EES within ECOFIN (interview D-3). As far as information on other member states’ practice is concerned, BMF officials predominantly fell back on the countries’ NAPs as key points of reference (interview D-3). Starting with the submission of the draft JER and recommendations by the Commission in autumn each year during the first phase of the EES, the BMF initiated the domestic co-ordination process by circulating the drafts among the members of the inter-ministerial EES working group. These members de-centrally disseminated the supranational drafts to all other actors involved (interview D-2, D-3) in order to prepare the national positions for the negotiation stage at supranational level.87 They still do so under the new EES. After this first preparatory step of the de-centralised co-ordination procedure, the comments of the single ministries and the other actors (social partners and the Länder) were returned to the BMF that, by eliminating overlaps or even contradictions and streamlining the single contributions, prepared a joint document (interview D-2, D-5). The steering function of the BMF during the first phase of the EES–even though partially viewed to be conflictual in style–has been assessed to be generally accepted by the other ministerial actors involved. The overall satisfaction with the ministry’s performance was additionally supported by the smoothening of co-ordination process during the first phase of the EES, establishing a rather well-functioning coordination procedure, and the fact that initial conflicts seem to have vanished (interview D-3). After fine-tuning by the BMF, the full joint document was and still is again distributed among the officials involved to prepare for a video conference between the Berlin and Bonn sites of the different ministries (given that parts of the BMA/BMWA are still located in the former German capital). These video conferences provided input into the finalisation of the NAP within the BMF before the amended document was disseminated again to the social partners (interview D-2). At the end of this preparatory stage the final document was submitted by the Minister of Finances to the Cabinet for formal decision-making. 87 At this early stage, also social partners additionally took advantage of the opportunity to comment on the drafts and especially on the EGs within own opinion papers directly addressed to the Commission (interview D-5; cf. chapter 4.2.2.4). Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 290 4.2.2.2 The Ministry of Economics and Labour: The ‘Window to the Outside World’ – Keeping an Eye on Policy Contents While, during the first phase of the EES, the BMF provided for the technical coordination of the German part of the EES-PCN, the BMWA88 was responsible for the co-ordination of employment policy related input into the German NAP (interview D-3). Given the restructuring of the ministries after the 2002 general elections, parts of the BMF Grundsatzreferat–including those dealing with the EES–were relocated to the newly established BMWA (ibid., D-2). Yet, regardless of the merger of BMA and BMWi, functions of the new BMWA unit dealing with the NAP procedure remained that of the former BMA Department II A 2 ‘International Labour Market Policy’. The new unit continued to be supported by special NAP/EES coordinators of the Department III ‘Labour Law and Work Security’ and Unit V ‘Promotion of Handicapped Persons’. Department II ‘Labour Market Policy and Unemployment Benefit’ is also in charge of the co-ordination of the ESF. So, synergy between the two instruments is particularly aimed at. Moreover, the ‘Central Political Planning Department’ (‘Grundsatzabteilung’) of the BMWA and its International Department are partially involved in ESF activities. Altogether, during the first phase of the EES, a rather small group of some eight to ten officials were involved in NAP-related activities within the BMA (interview D-2). During this first phase, the BMA held competences over the third pillar of the EES, while it shared responsibilities under the first pillar with the BMBF (the BMA being mainly responsible for EGs 1 to 3) and those falling under the fourth pillar with the BMFSFJ (the BMA mainly dealt with the enhancement of equal opportunities in the labour market; interview D-2). During the first phase of the EES, the BMWi was responsible for the content of the entrepreneurship pillar. After the merger of the BMA and the BMWi in 2002/03 the newly created BMWA took over also these competences under the former second pillar (interview D-2). Within its third pillar competences, it is responsible for the integration of the social partners into the German part of the EES-PCN (interview D-3, D-5). As the British DTI, it is responsible for social partner consultations related to the contents of the former EGs 13 and 15, channelling their input into the German NAP and, hence, forming an important point of access for social partners to the German part of the EES-PCN (interview D-6). The BMWA also holds contacts to the Länder officials responsible for labour market policy within the Länder ministries for labour and social affairs, the German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag), local representatives, as well as the Federal Employment Service (FES; Bundesagentur für Arbeit/BfA). The latter is mainly engaged in data collection for the preparation of the NAP (interview D-2). 88 The ministry is referred to as BMA when especially its performance, its structural particularities and procedural involvement as Ministry of Labour before the merger with the BMWi is concerned. It is referred to as BMWA when the general competences and tasks of the ministry are concerned that remained the same even after the 2002/03 merger. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 291 The BMWA is the main ‘window to the outside world’ of the German part of the EES-PCN, holding direct contacts to the European Commission and the Council/EMCO. Contacts to the Commission include the bilateral meetings phase with the Directorates A and C (C and D) of DG EMPL. The German delegation to attend these meetings is composed of officials of the BMWA, leading the delegation (Departments II and III), BMF, BMBF, BMFSFJ, a Länder representative and the one representative of each social partner side (DGB/BDA) (interview D-2, D-5, EU-2). With a view to EMCO meetings, four German officials, one of the BMWA Department VI ‘International Department’, two officials of the BMWA Department II, and one Länder representative, are partaking. Yet, participation of all four officials at the same time is rather rare. So, most frequently only two or three attended EMCO meeting during the first phase of the EES (interview D-2). Contacts of the BMWA with other EU member states take place within meetings under the EU peer review/mutual learning programme (ibid.; cf. chapter 3.2.1). Within this peer review exercise, the German delegation participated inter alia in workshops organised by Italy on business start up strategies (interview D-2), or by Denmark on job rotation (interview D-2, D-3). Policy transfer was, yet, assessed to be limited to elements of employment policies that were less strongly influenced by country-specific traditions. Further bi-national meetings between the BMWA and its French and British colleagues are held on a more regular basis on topics such as social partnership in the French case or the New Deal Programmes in the case of the UK (interview D-2). Other topics of such meetings in the past were long-term unemployment or youth unemployment. Yet, such bilateral meetings, targeting at the inspiration of horizontal cross-loading and policy transfer, were said to have already existed before and independent of the Luxembourg process, even if they further intensified with the EES and have been amended by a broad range of informal exchange (ibid.). 4.2.2.3 The ‘Others’: Inter-ministerial Co-ordination, the Subnational Level, and Parliament – Just Small Cogwheels within the German Part of the EES-PCN? Compared to the British practice, the German part of the EES-PCN and the annual process of setting up the NAP, not least because of the federal state structure, is a much more de-centralised, multilevel and corporatist consultation process between the different (state and non-state) actors and state levels involved. Like in the UK, every ministry contributes the specific parts of the NAP falling under its responsibility. As soon as the EGs were adopted at European level, a working group, comprising officials of all relevant ministries and the social partners, met in early January within the BMF to discuss the EGs, their implications for the organisation of the domestic NAP process and the overall division of work between the different actors involved (interview D-1). In 2002, the Länder requested to also be integrated into this first joint preparatory meeting (interview D-3). After this first meeting, the ministries draft the first versions of their parts of the NAP and submit Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 292 them to the other actors thematically involved in the specific parts for comments and additional input (cf. above). This inter-ministerial co-ordination structure also implies that no central channelling of the social partners’ contributions takes place apart from the close co-operation between the BMWA and the social partners on the content of the former EGs 13 and 15. Social partners in general are integrated into the work of each ministry according to thematic topics, providing the departments with more specialised input and offering the social partners a multitude of access points. In contrast to the UK, no single ministry is in overall charge of the integration of the social partners into the German NAP process, even if the BMWA constitutes an outstanding contact point for them. This de-centralised co-ordination process is assessed to better correspond to German tripartite social dialogue traditions (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2) and the fact, that the different ministries hold thematic links to different units within the social partners’ organisations (interview D-2, D-3, D-5). To re-arrange this social partner consultation practice, attributing responsibilities for the integration of social partners to one single ministry only, would have disfunctionally ignored the characteristic logics of the German system of social partner consultation. It would, moreover, have unnecessarily deviated from domestic traditions and endangered the domestic set up. Thus, the domestic institutional design chosen to provide for social partner integration by the single ministries follows the German ‘corporatist style’ tradition of pluralist representation of social interests and pays tribute to the multitude of relations between the different social partners and government departments. Following this particular logic, the BMBF, for example, integrates the relevant social partner organisations in the field of education and research (i.e. ver.di). Given that–adhering to the division of competences within the federal system (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2)–legislative competences for education lie with the Länder (a fact not without irritation for the EES-related co-ordination process and for setting of quantitative targets in Germany; interview D-2), the Standing Conference of Länder Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz/KMK) is integrated into the preparation of the German NAP as well (interview D-2, D-3). For the coordination of the Länder contributions, the BMBF established a special working group. This particular set of actors inputs into the regional chapter of the German NAP’s annex, presenting the comments of the Länder, communes, and local entities. The input of the Länder has, however, been regarded as partially insufficient in the past (interview D-3). Moreover, due to scarce resources and underdeveloped own co-ordination structures, communes, and local entities are rather underrepresented within the German NAP process (interview D-2). Although part of central state legislation through the Bundesrat, the Länder are usually not involved in the first round of drafting federal legislation or central state documents. As a consequence, the direct integration of the Länder into the process of drafting the German NAP is rather unfamiliar even to German federal policymaking practice and traditions. As in the case of the BMBF, every ministry structures the process according to its policy priorities and integrates the relevant experts of the social partners (DGB, Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 293 BDA, ver.di, and to a minor extent also the ZDH and DIHKT) and of the different political levels in order to deliberate intensively on policy contents (interview D-2, D-5). Although in view of the EES, this de-centralised procedure has been perceived as valuable, a stronger steering position of the BMF was, nevertheless, regarded as potentially adding to the overall coherence of the process (interview D-5). The inter-ministerial co-ordination process is channelled via the normal interministerial circular procedure, which follows the general elements of interministerial consultations in Germany (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Thus, like in the UK, neither new units dealing exclusively with the EES nor new processes have been set up for the NAP procedure within Germany. According to one government official, a rather pragmatic approach has been established to this sort of inter-ministerial coordination during the first phase of the EES (interview D-2). The single ministries draft their specific parts and do not extensively comment on or criticise the drafts of the other ministries. Ministerial competences and responsibilities are respected and comments are put forward only in case of joint interest and overlapping competences (ibid.). Conflicts seldom arose and were mostly related to the size of the single contributions, trying to establish certain equilibrium between the single parts. This, of course, potentially led to disagreement–and in fact also did so in the past–on the most important substance of the contribution. Such conflicts and discussions arose during the first phase of the EES between the central state level and the Länder as well as between the BMF and the other ministries. They were, yet, perceived to be typical for the standard inter-ministerial co-ordination procedure (ibid., D-3). In order to avoid such conflicts, actors of the German part of the EES-PCN assess themselves to be trying to soften lines of conflict in advance and to establish wellacceptable and consensual drafts. This tendency characterises the process, as the German NAP is neither intended nor perceived to be a document to reveal national conflicts to a wider public (interview D-2, D-5). A good example for such ‘softening’ of conflicts related to the NAP was the domestic dissent on the ‘Job-AQTIV Act’. While employers’ organisations were strictly opposed to the extension of employment promotion activities and structural adaptation measure to target especially East-Germany, as identified by the act (interview D-5), trade unions were strongly in favour of such reforms, particularly with a view to the rather small ‘first labour market’ in East Germany (interview D-2). During the formulation of the NAP on this particular act, the responsible ministries, yet, decided to leave social partner dissent out of the NAP, drafting their single contributions based on their own assessment (interview D-2, D-5). After the adoption of the draft by the Cabinet, the NAP is transferred to the Bundestag and Bundesrat for parliamentary deliberation within the respective committees (interview D-3). Finalised this round of consultation, the NAP is submitted to the Commission. During the first phase of the EES, the German parliament, like in the case of the UK, has not extensively been consulted or informed about the NAP by the government. Both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat were rather briefed on the NAP. Given that the tight timetable of the NAP process rather badly matched with the sessions of parliament and the general time constraints of parliamentary Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 294 procedures, such as the six-week period of notice to the parliament (interview D-3), neither the NAP nor the EES became subject to extensive deliberation within the plenum. Discussion within the parliamentary committees of the Bundesrat and the Bundestag were usually not very intensive and domestic employment policy reforms remained more important for parliamentary deliberation than the NAP (interview D- 4). If the German parliament dealt with the NAP, deliberation is most frequently linked to the debate on national employment policies (interview D-3, D-4). This lack of attention of parliament could, yet, have also been caused by the missing perception of the EU-level being relevant for domestic employment policy-making and by the low public visibility of the EES (interview D-4). 4.2.2.4 The Social Partners: German Social Dialogue Traditions and the Domestic Part of the EES-PCN – The Hare and the Hedgehog? Contrary to the UK, German social partnership and tripartite social dialogue has a long-standing corporatist tradition (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Social partner consultation within the domestic NAP procedure takes up this particular German tradition. Within the regular German policy-making process, social partners are integrated through hearings once a law is drafted to comment on the drafts. Yet, social partners usually do not directly co-operate in preparing the exact wording of legislation or parts of proposals in advance. So, according to one government official, the stronger integration and formalisation of social partner consultation under the EES is even new to German ‘corporatist style’ policy-making (interview D-2, D-5). Until 2002, the tripartite national employment pact Alliance for Jobs, Training, and Competitiveness (Bündnis für Arbeit) was a central tessera within the mosaic of social partner integration into national employment policy-making (interview D-2). With the Alliance, formally established in December 1998, the government and the two sides of the economy institutionalised a forum for national tripartite social dialogue. The main objectives of the Alliance were the discussion of broad reform approaches for the German labour market and employment policies, including the improvement and modernisation of vocational training, integration of unemployed young and low-skilled persons into the labour market, adaptation of work organisation as well as reconciliation of work and family life (cf. SPD/BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN 1998:I.2). Nevertheless, technical links between the German part of the EES-PCN and the Alliance’s working groups or agenda were not established. The Alliance and similar regional pacts, despite of not formally being linked to the EES provided important input into the German NAP as far as the general reform of employment and labour market policies was concerned. Relevant examples in this context are the consensus on education and training (‘Ausbildungskonsens’) or a paradigm change related to the integration of older workers decided by the Alliance independently from the EES (interview D-1, D-2, D-5). The Alliance might, moreover, have contributed to the creation of a favourable climate for employment policy Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 295 reforms in general. The Alliance’s steering group was composed of highest ranking officials of the German government and social partners (cf. table 26). The body did, yet, not work as efficiently and consensus-oriented as expected. Search for consensus was difficult and, hence, no date for the continuation of talks was scheduled after its last official meeting in January 2002. Especially social partners were not satisfied with the compliance in view of agreed targets. Deliberation on the re-launch of the Alliance was taken up again in January 2003, but did not come to a result (cf. Streeck 2003). Many of the topics discussed within the Alliance–such as initiatives for training of older people and for the re-integration of unemployed people–were, however, integrated into the ‘Job-AQTIV Act’ of January 2002 (Thiel 2004:158). Table 26: Steering Group of the Alliance for Jobs Government Business organisations Trade Unions Chancellor (Gerhard Schröder) BDA (Confederation of German Employers' Associations, Dieter Hundt) DGB (German Federation of Trade Unions, Dieter Schulte) Minister of Finance (Hans Eichel) BDI (Confederation of German Industries, Michael Rogowski) IG Metall (Metalworker's Union, Klaus Zwickel) Minister of Economics and Labour (Werner Müller/Walter Riester/Wolfgang Clement) DIHKT (German Association of Chambers of Commerce, Georg Braun) IG BCE (Mining, Chemicals and Energy Union, Hubertus Schmoldt) Minister of Health (Ulla Schmidt) ZHD (Central Association of German Crafts, Dieter Philipp) ÖTV (Public Services, Transport and Traffic Union, Frank Bsirske) Minister of Education and Research (Edelgard Bulmahn) Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (Renate Künast) Minister for the Chancellery (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) Source: Own compilation. As their British counterparts, German social partners are focusing on the content of the EGs 13 and 15 for which they–after initially only commenting on the draft prepared exclusively by the BMWA–prepare lists of keywords that are then integrated Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 296 by the BMWA (interview D-2, D-6). The limited extent of own drafting is, yet, perceived rather positively by some social partners given that further efforts were assessed to be doomed to failure due to limited resources (interview D-5). During this first phase of the EES, the DGB and the BDA, even in cases of dissent about the implementation of certain policies and although they would have rather preferred to prepare separate drafts (Eironline 2002b:1), moreover, agreed on joint drafts related to EGs 13 and 15, which were integrated into the NAP (interview D-5). Notwithstanding this outcome, some officials assessed the overall process of reaching ‘inter’-social partner agreement to be rather awkward (interview D-3). In subsequent years, social partners were more closely integrated by preparing more extensive lists of important items for the contents of the EGs 13 and 15. However, the German government, as voiced also by the British administration in the case of the UK, would have preferred to go a step further, having the social partners deliver own joint drafts on broader parts of the NAP instead of mere compilation of keywords for activities and priorities under EGs 13 and 15 (interview D-2, D-5). By being this more proactively involved, they would have more profoundly lived up to their responsibilities under the EES given that their input in terms of keywords has not been assessed to target at change and adaptation to EU provisions in general (interview D- 3). Instead, national priorities still seemed to prevail also at social partner level. Yet, given social partners’ perception of the NAP as foremost a governmental exercise with commitments of the German government not imposable on them, this further proactive integration into the German part of the EES-PCN was a rather unrealistic proposal. This even more so, as such integration was assessed to imply a profound workload that social partners were neither able nor willing to accept for a contribution to a government document for which they did not take responsibility as they were not able to fully influence the content (interview D-2, D-3 and D-5). So, social partners and especially the BDA laid strong emphasis on the quality of the NAP as a government document that reflected government views and was not in the position to bind social partners (interview D-5). Nevertheless, commenting on the ministries’ draft is assessed to be a positive exercise. In the years after the inception of the EES, consultations were assessed to productively intensify and social partners were involved in the drafting the NAP at a very early stage of the domestic NAP process. Due to close personal links and longstanding professional relations between the different actors, such as additional bilateral meetings between the two sides of the economy and the BMF as well as with the BMA on EU policies (interview D-5), the ‘small co-ordination procedure’ was assessed to work rather smoothly. Tight links based on long-standing corporatist traditions provide for a solid foundation as well as for additional arenas for exchange on the EES. They are, moreover, strengthened by social partners’ representation within the self-administration boards (Selbstverwaltungsgremien) of the FES (interview D-2, D-5) as well as within the multitude of advisory boards and expert committee affiliated to the ministries (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). During the first phase of the EES, social partners’ comments were discussed within the framework of a special bilateral meeting with officials of the BMF (inter- Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 297 view D-2). This element was, yet, partially assessed to not have been very productive (interview D-5). When the full draft NAP was circulated by the BMF in February, social partners officially got in contact with the different ministries’ contributions, after having earlier in the process concentrated on the single ministries’ drafts (interview D-6). Yet, informally the different parts of the draft NAP were already submitted to the respective social partner organisations directly by the different ministries in advance. As a result of this practice, dissemination overlaps were bemoaned to frequently have happened (interview D-5). Social partners use this stage of the co-ordination process to comment on the whole document, to neutralise controversial aspects and to present own proposals (ibid.). This special procedure of bilateral deliberation with social partners has changed insofar as the social partners, towards the end of the first phase, in 2002 have asked to further comment on the full draft NAP only within a circular procedure and through ‘short’ official channels, rather than in additional bilateral meetings with the BMF (interview D-2, D-3, D-5). Therefore and as social partners themselves did not really appreciate the procedure as highly valuable, frequency of meetings has been reduced in 2002 and no such final round of social partner consultation on the full draft NAP took place within the BMF afterwards (interview D-2). In view of the overall strategic exchange on communication strategies related to the domestic NAP procedure, additional trilateral meetings would, however, have been appreciated (interview D-5). Even if their participation is not always based on search for consensus and cooperation, the integration of the two sides of the economy into the German part of the EES-PCN is generally appreciated by both the government and the social partners (cf. Eironline 2002b). A point of irritation was, yet, the lack of consultation of social partners on the five years interim evaluation of the EES at national level. This lack was especially criticised by the employers’ organisations (interview D-5), which–not being in line with the SPD-led government coalition employment policy priorities (interview D-6)–sent their comments and proposals directly to the European Commission in order to input into the evaluation process (interview D-5). Regarding the strong de-centralisation of the German NAP procedure, social partners criticised the splitting of NAP co-ordination competences between the different ministries. This division was assessed to create a multiplication and overlap of consultation cycles that partially overburdened social partner organisations with a flood of drafts and documents of various government actors to be commented on (interview D-5). Most intensively in the beginning of the EES, the DGB, additionally, criticised the German NAP not to be far-reaching enough and to insufficiently equip Germany to fight unemployment (DGB 1998). Even complicating the process during the preparatory phase of the first German NAP in 1998, social partner consultations had to be transferred from the technical level to the political level, involving the leading representatives of the DGB and BDA as well as the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs (interview D-2, D-5) given that at the lower level no agreement could be reached on divergent positions on education and training policies, particularly concerning the enhancement of training opportunities. This politicisation of the Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 298 German NAP process was, yet, down-graded with no further highest-level interventionism in the following years (interview D-2). In general, the integration of social partners into the German part of the EES-PCN is perceived by most actors involved to be not strongly politicised and rather consensus-oriented. The formulation of the NAP, meanwhile, strikes a rather diplomatic note and does not provide for a forum to negotiate conflicts related to particular domestic employment policies (interview D-2, D-3). So, even if social partners do not agree with certain national policy approaches and employment policies, the EES does not in itself evoke opposition. As do their British counterparts, also German social partners hold direct informal links to European institutions within the framework of bilateral meetings and seminars on certain topics under the EES (interview D-2, EU-2). Within the bilateral meetings over the first period of the EES, German social partners’ influence on the recommendations became politically far more important than their impact on the JER or the EGs. The recommendations were assessed to be the most concrete output of the EES and the most targeted evaluation of the member states’ employment performance. Even if the BDA and the DGB additionally hold liaison offices in Brussels (interview D-5), most contacts related to the EES, like in the case of the British TUC and CBI, are channelled via ETUC and UNICE. In this context, German social partners also partake in the working groups of their respective European organisations. Direct contacts with other EU member states’ social partner organisations add to the European embeddedness of German social partners and have been established, as in the case of the BDA, with social partners from France, Italy, and the Netherlands by organising joint seminars on EES-related topics like benchmarking (ibid.). Within the social partner organisations, the Labour Market and Employment Policy units, those responsible for European and International Affairs, and the relevant sectoral units are responsible for the input into the NAP process and supranational policy co-ordination (interview D-5). Their affiliates provide additional input, for instance, via committee work. So, as in the case of governmental actors, no new organisational units have been established and no new co-ordination procedures invented to deal with the EES. Regular working methods were applied and the EES was integrated into existing units’ work (interview D-6). Yet, an expansion of attention and orientation towards the supranational level can be witnessed (ibid.). Due to the rather scarce resources (interview EU-2), German social partners are generally quite aware of their limited impact on the real content of the NAP. Concerning its specific impact on domestic employment policy and the NAP preparation under the two Schröder governments, the BDA drew a rather pessimistic picture on its influence compared to that of the DGB (interview D-5). Given profound differences to government positions, the employers’ organisations assessed themselves not to have been in the position to intensively contribute to the preparation of the NAP in a positive way (interview D-6). A more recognised contribution was, yet, perceived to potentially have led to a better implementation of the EES than during its first phase, in which the German government according to one Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 299 employer organisation’s official broadly missed to comply with the European provisions (ibid.). The more favourable position of the German trade unions was assessed to have even increased over the past years with the change of government towards the centre-left pole, with legislation such as the Hartz concept and the overall reform of the labour market towards activation policies (interview D-5, D-6; cf. chapter 5.2). Yet, in general, the EES-related impact clearly steps back behind domestic priorities and daily-business. So, the EES had rather been perceived as ‘the icing on the cake’ of domestic employment policy-making (interview EU-2). Concerning the position of social partners in view of the EES, the BDA in line with its long-established organisational priorities (interview D-5) focuses on the contents of the former entrepreneurship pillar. Thus, according to the BDA the shift away from job protection towards job promotion and creation has to be emphasised stronger. The same holds true for the relevance of economic growth and the stimulation of domestic demand in order to combat structural unemployment (ibid., D-6). Regarding the overall procedure of setting up the NAP, the BDA welcomed the 2003 reforms of streamlining of socio-economic co-ordination processes and the extended three-year period for full NAP reporting (cf. Eironline 2002b). It was assessed to better link the content of the different processes and increase interprocedural coherence (ibid.). In view of the EES’s priorities, the DGB especially welcomed government initiatives such as the ‘Job-AQTIC Act’ with “proposals to offer more suitable job placement to unemployed people and to improve the qualification levels of older employees and lower-skilled workers, as well as the extension of social security cover for people with caring obligations and the introduction of job rotation” (Eironline 2001:3; cf. 2002b:2). Concerning the 2003 and 2005 reforms of the EES, the DGB supported the formulation of more concrete targets for the reduction of unemployment at European level as well as the better co-ordination of national training and qualification activities that should lead to the establishment of a European ‘education and training area’ (DGB 2001). Assessing their overall impact on the German NAP, social partners most critically remarked that their comment on a wide range of drafts was asked for without any guarantee for the integration of their comments (interview D-5). Moreover, it had been critically viewed that the government does not seem to allow for divergent opinions of both DGB and BDA to appear within the NAP. As a result, their integration into the domestic NAP process was partially perceived to fulfil an ‘alibi’ rather than an integrative function to enhance social partnership. As suggested during the interviews for this study, a preamble to the NAP, allowing social partners to express more fundamental opposition and concerns, would not only bring relieve in this context. It would, moreover, underline the quality of the NAP as no product of cross-societal consensus on employment policies, but as a government document, presenting the government policy strategies (ibid.). In order to shoot down requests for additional involvement, German social partners involved in the NAP process referred to their right to free collective bargaining and their related independence (cf. interview D-5). They partially assess the EES as Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 300 a profound limitation of their long-established rights and the supranational level not being competent to bind them by recommendations and EGs (interview D-2, D-5). Moreover, social partners bring forward the argument that federal level employers’ and employees’ organisations are not able to fully bind their affiliates (ibid.). This insistence on traditional rights, which is also backed and advocated at supranational level by the German government (ibid.), hampers the full development of the EES paradigm of social partnership also in Germany. Consequently, especially towards the end of the first phase of the EES enthusiasm of German social partners seemed to vanish with both the DGB and BDA not as strongly engaged as in the beginning (Eironline 2002b; interview D-5). So, in the end, even if the ‘hare’-model of German social partnership is hobbling fast and far enough to approach domestic aims, the ‘hedgehog’-model of the social partnership paradigm of the EES is–at least theoretically–designed to even accelerate social partnership. So, it is still waiting for the hare to adapt and to reach the new supranational paradigm. 4.2.2.5 Interim Assessment: The German Part of the EES-PCN – De-centralisation as Process-Guiding Principle – ‘If it Works for Us it also Works for Brussels’ The German part of the EES-PCN consists of 13 institutional actors and groups of actors. Yet, due to the very limited involvement of the Ministries of Health and of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, the number of core actors and groups of actors reduces to 11. As in the UK, the involvement of this EES core group into the domestic procedure of setting up the NAP follows the institutional logics of the German political system and government traditions of multilevel policy-making under the conditions of fragmented leadership, a de-centralised polity, and a corporatist style pluralism, offering several potential veto points for domestic policy formation and implementation (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). The EMLG logic of the EES matches with German government practices, which insert the EES into existing domestic government traditions of the co-operative federal state system with no particular need to adapt domestic institutional set ups and underlying cognitive/normative structures to the multilevel approach of the EES. The familiarity with multilevel policy-making is additionally nurtured by the system of competences shared and divided between the federal state level and the Länder level (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Contrary to the UK, the interactions of German political actors involved at national and supranational level are structured in a de-centralised way. Yet, despite this strongly de-centralised employment policy co-ordination within the domestic NAP process, clear process leadership laid with the BMF until 2002/03 and the BMWA since 2002/03 that acted as lead ministries of the compilation of the NAP. Although the scope of institutional actors or groups of actors involved is even larger than in the case of the UK, only a very limited number of officials–merely two to five per department or organisation–are directly engaged in setting up the German Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 301 NAP. As in the case of the UK, they form a closed advocacy coalition of ‘initialised’ political actors that are interlinked by a network of dense working relations. The EES is rather invisible within domestic employment policy-making and almost unknown to the wider public in the domestic context (interview D-5). Therefore, the distribution of knowledge on best practices or information gathered from the participation in the peer review/mutual learning programme and the feedback of this information into domestic employment policies is partially complicated by the seclusion of the NAP process from domestic employment policy-making. Regarding the functional aspects of the German part of the EES-PCN, the BMF until 2002/03 and from then on the BMWA held the procedural lead within the domestic NAP procedure. With the ministerial re-arrangements of 2002/03, this functional-procedural leadership was merged with the expertise on employment and economic policies within one single ministry. The previous separation of functional lead and policy competence was due to German policy co-ordination traditions and, hence, no particularity of the NAP process (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Within the BMF/BMWA, parts of the Grundsatzreferat, functionally equivalent to the British JIU, execute the functional lead, holding tight contacts to the other actors involved. The BMWA also co-ordinates the largest part of the social partner input into the German NAP, even if their input is additionally channelled via the different ministries involved that hold contacts to social partner organisation related to their specific policy responsibilities. With a view to the two lead ministries, a certain bias between process lead and policy expertise was to be witnessed until 2002/03. While the BMF held overall co-ordination competences within its ‘Grundsatzreferat’, the BMWA played a stronger content-related role, providing input on the development of domestic employment policies. Following the principle of departmental responsibility over their respective policy areas, besides these two core ministries, two other departments–BMFSFJ and BMBF–are involved. The involvement of the Cabinet and the Chancellery pays tribute to the other two principles of German government practice. Yet, just like in the UK, these two principles can be assessed not as intensively operational under the EES as they are in domestic policy-making given that setting up the NAP is no formal legislative act (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). As a result of the multitude of actors involved, the German part of the EES-PCN, in comparison to the UK, is structured far more complex. It integrates multilevel and corporatist elements and, therefore, expands the scope of relevant actors. As in the British case, no special body to exclusively deal with the NAP and the EES has been set up in Germany. Although the German parliament, providing a central access point for the Länder to federal legislation, generally disposes over a strong veto position within the political system, the German NAP process, during the first phase of the EES, has been characterised by a very low degree of parliamentarisation. Like in the UK this fact added to the low public visibility and missing transparency of the strategy within the domestic arena. Hence, the many veto points of the German political system (cf. chapter 2.2.1.2) did not become particularly operational in view of the domestic NAP process. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 302 Graph 13: The German Part of the EES-PCN (until 2002) Alliance for JobsAlliance for Jobs Ministry of Finance (Lead ministry, co-ordination of the NAP procedure) Unit I B 2 (Labour Market and Social Policy) of the Grundsatzreferat Ministry of Finance (Lead ministry, co-ordination of the NAP procedure) Unit I B 2 (Labour Market and Social Policy) of the Grundsatzreferat Social Partners BDA, DGB and ver.di Social Partners BDA, DGB and ver.di Länder Federal States Länder Federal States Local Entities Local Entities ChancelleryChancellery CabinetCabinetParliament Bundestag Bundesrat Parliament Bundestag Bundesrat Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Ministry of Education and Research Ministry of Education and Research Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Ministry of HealthMinistry of Health Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ministry of Economics and Technology Ministry of Economics and Technology Source: Own design. With the 2002/03 transfer of parts of the Grundsatzreferat to the BMWA and the merger of the BMWi and the BMA, the previous divide was reduced. The processguiding tensions between the BMWi (focusing on economic policies) and the BMA (focusing on social and labour market policies) was diminished. The transfer did unite the two paradigms into one ministry (interview D-3) and, hence, brought the German system a step closer to the integrated approach to socio-economic policy coordination as intended by the EES and the Lisbon Strategy. Inter-ministerial tensions on employment policies and on the overall socio-economic policy paradigm were partially overlaid by the newly created ministerial structure (interview D-3). Given that it clarified the leadership on the domestic NAP process, the 2002/03 restructuring of the German ministerial landscape also brought about further procedural relief. The previous separation of functional lead through the BMF and policy expertise through the BMA was removed. As the set of actors involved largely remained untouched by these re-arrangements, the higher fluctuation within the German part of the EES-PCN compared to the British one is due to ministerial reconstruction rather than to fluctuation of actors involved. Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 303 Graph 14: The German Part of the EES-PCN (since 2002/03) Ministry of FinanceMinistry of Finance Social Partners BDA, DGB and ver.di Social Partners BDA, DGB and ver.di Länder Federal States Länder Federal States Local Entities Local Entities ChancelleryChancellery CabinetCabinetParliament Bundestag Bundesrat Parliament Bundestag Bundesrat Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Ministry Education and Research Ministry Education and Research Ministry of Economics and Labour (Lead ministry, co-ordination of the NAP procedure) Transfer of the parts of the Grundsatzreferat responsible for the EES Ministry of Economics and Labour (Lead ministry, co-ordination of the NAP procedure) Transfer of the parts of the Grundsatzreferat responsible for the EES Ministry of HealthMinistry of Health Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Source: Own design. Even if the NAP, as a document to be prepared under the Luxembourg process, was new to German political actors, the inbuilt multilevel policy co-ordination process of the EES was rather familiar to German policy-making. Within its federal system, inter-ministerial co-ordination, including Länder participation in areas such as education, builds the standard procedure and fundament for the preparation of Cabinet decisions. Also social partner consultation is a long-established tradition in Germany (interview D-2, D-3, D-5; cf. chapter 2.2.1.2). Hence, the German part of the EES- PCN shows an extrapolation of domestic policy-making traditions. Nevertheless, rather new even to German policy-making were the intensive links and institutionalised integration of both the social partners and the Länder into the preparation of government documents (interview D-2, D-5). In this context, especially the recommendations were perceived to have brought new dynamics into the domestic employment policy-making arena (interview D-5). Generally, the EES is assessed to have tightened and further institutionalised existing contacts under long-established governmental co-ordination procedures (interviews D-2, D-5). Through the additional creation and consolidation of new fora and channels for exchange among the member states, trust among actors involved has Structural-Procedural Aspects of the EES in Practice 304 been enhanced. Moreover, interests in the experiences of other member states and coalition-building opportunities have been increased (interview D-2). The de-centralised approach of sectoral EES-related consultations of the social partners by the federal ministries follows the logic of the strong tradition of ‘corporatist style’ pluralism in Germany, underlining the strong position of social partners in general. This multiplication of access points is assumed to put social partners in Germany into a stronger position than their British colleagues as it potentially offers the ground for a stronger consideration of the social partners’ positions. The regional and local dimension of the German part of the EES-PCN is most strongly influenced by the distribution of competences between different state levels. Apart from mirroring the multilevel character of the EES, this can also enhance efficiency problems of the domestic NAP process given that the different state levels can diverge in terms of policy priorities and resources. Given the top-down stamp of the structural-procedural premises of the EES, inefficiency and bottlenecks can arise more frequently for instance in the case of education and training policies, with the Länder disposing over own competences including own budgetary implications for the subnational level (interview D-2).

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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.