Gaby Umbach, ‘Extending the Driveway’: Expanding Existing Policy Approaches under the Streamlined EES (2003-2005) – Europeanisation Impact Intensified or Blurred? in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 339 - 348

Europeanisation of National Employment Policies and Policy-Making?

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

Series: Studies on the European Union, vol. 1

Bibliographic information
National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 339 5.1.2 ‘Extending the Driveway’: Expanding Existing Policy Approaches under the Streamlined EES (2003-2005) – Europeanisation Impact Intensified or Blurred? The 2003 and 2004 Council recommendations bemoaned the “relatively low levels of productivity in part due to insufficient levels of basic skills, and specific job quality-related problems like the gender pay gap and lack of access to training for some categories of workers” (Council of the EU 2003e:30; cf. ibid. 2004b:58). This problems were assessed to constitute main areas for necessary reforms particularly to be tackled by the further development of the national social partnership approach. Adding to this criticism, increasing disability and sickness benefit claimant rates as well as asymmetric access to the labour market disfavouring especially disadvantaged groups gave cause for additional concern. The 2003 recommendation, therefore, urged the UK to strengthen active labour market instruments to more intensively and proactively integrate disadvantaged groups. They, moreover, recommended to increase incentives to take up and stay in work by reviewing the domestic sickness and disability benefit system and by providing work for all those able to work. Once again, concerns were raised about the gender pay gap and it was proposed to improve cross-sectoral as well as cross-professional and training integration of women (cf. ibid. 2003e:30). Taking up this 2003 evaluation, the 2004 recommendations, additionally, urged the UK to improve productivity of work and the balance work productivity and wage development, to increase basic skills levels by enhancing national and regional skills and learning strategies in order to foster productivity, to decrease the rate of disability and sickness benefit claimants by focused active labour market policies, to provide for sufficient access to childcare places and to increase training measures particular for low-skilled and low-paid women (cf. ibid. 2004b:58). The 2003 and 2004 British NAPs responded to the recommendations in the main text, instead of merely annexing answers to the plans. Given that no recommendations were issued in 2005, the 2005 National Reform Programme (NRP) comprised no such part. In view of the recommendation on the improvement of the activation approach, the 2003 and 2004 NAPs pointed at the extension, modernisation, decentralisation, and adaptation of Jobcentre Plus by ‘Building on New Deal’ to improve active placement support as well as at the introduction of the ‘New Deal for Skills’ to enhance basic skills levels (cf. ibid.:9, 2004:3 and 6). Concerning the recommendation to further improve and institutionalise national social partnership, the British government, as in previous years, pointed at the autonomy of social partners, the well-established domestic practice of de-centralised and ad-hoc social dialogue and different national fora, providing for the integration of social partners into the political process, such as the RDA or the Low Pay Commission (cf. ibid. 2003:16). Yet, apart from this rather defensively-minded reference to national social dialogue traditions, interaction was intensified by the government’s request to the social partners to identify areas of future bilateral engagement and integration. Social partners answered to this request by pointing at the Low Pay Commission, the Work and Parents Work Force, or further co-operation to improve skills levels (cf. ibid.). National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 340 In view of the recommendation on equality and the improvement of the overall environment for female participation, the 2003 UK NAP acknowledged the existence of a gender pay gap as well as labour market segregation between the sexes. It presented various, already existing measures to fight these problems, including the ‘Equal Pay Questionnaire’ operational since 2002 within the ‘Employment Act’, public funding of trade unions’ equal pay issues representatives and pay reviews in civil service. Moreover, intensified efforts of the EOC and social dialogue to foster voluntary review of pay provisions as well as to investigate more in-depth into labour market segregation within the 2003 ‘General Formal Investigation’ (cf. ibid.:29, 2004:20f.) were listed to improve the situation. Regarding the recommendation to develop labour supply and active ageing, the 2003 UK NAP pointed at the vital importance of this issue for the future development of the British labour market (cf. ibid. 2003:27). The government, yet, rather passively responded to the recommendation by drawing on past legislation and policy initiatives, such as the 2002 reforms of the ‘Incapacity Benefit’, the NDDP or the WFTC. During the period of the synchronised, streamlined, and welded EES, the UK’s socio-economic policy priorities generally centred on • safeguarding and entrenching the country’s economic stability and growth; • continuation of activities to secure a high level of employment; • reform of the education system to raise educational standards and basic skills, increase training measures for 16 to 19 year-olds; • modernisation of the NHS; • introduction of good quality company pensions, increase of private pension prevention/savings, and establishment of a public ‘Pension Protection Fund’; • review of legislation relating to disabilities and discrimination; • support for business start-ups and entrepreneurship (cf. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2002, 2003 and 2004). The 2003 NAP–dedicated to the broader outline of the future British employment policy strategy–presented four elements as main pillars of this national strategy. In doing so, it heavily drew on already existing policies and programmes: “ • a Work First approach to moving people from welfare into work, emphasising both the rights and responsibilities of individuals; • a pro-employment regulatory environment providing a framework of decent minimum standards and protection; • supporting the creation of a skilled and adaptable workforce; and, • a commitment to opportunity for all” (cf. United Kingdom 2003:3). On the background of these strategic elements, the 2003 NAP listed thematic medium-term targets for 2006 (increase employment, decrease unemployment, increase participation rates of disadvantaged groups and employment in disadvantaged regions, diminish the ratio of children raised in households with no one in work, National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 341 augment childcare places). It, moreover, specified long-term targets for 2010, very much resembling the 2002 long-term targets (cf. chapter reach the highest employment rate ever, bring 70 pp of lone parents into work, augment university and further education attendance, halve poverty of children and eliminate it in the following two decades (cf. ibid.:3f., 2004:2). As main targets of domestic socioeconomic policies, the 2003 NAP identified “ • economic inactivity and dependence on welfare; • remaining pockets of high unemployment and low employment; • making work pay; • positive management of structural change; • combating discrimination; • raising education standards and developing the learning culture; and, • tackling labour market rigidities“ (ibid.:4; cf. ibid. 2004:1) to be tackled most prominently by the main policy reforms of the past, such as the NDs, Jobcentre Plus as well as the reform of the tax and benefit system (cf. ibid. 2003:4). The 2004 UK NAP–focusing on the implementation report of the 2003 national strategy–took up these priorities and elements. In order to strengthen active and preventive measures for the unemployed, the 2003 UK NAP referred to the rollout of the 2002 ‘Jobcentre Plus’, giving particular attention to the integration of inactive persons (cf. ibid. 2003:6, 2005:38). Moreover, the improvement of the ND programmes through ‘Building on New Deal’ was announced for 2004. Reforms included the synchronisation of eligibility criteria of the NDYP and the ND25+, the replacement of the six months early intervention period of the NDYP by a flexible 13 to 26 weeks work experience or training phase allowing also for the support of self-employment, and the amendment of ‘in-work credit’, ‘work search premium’ and a new ‘In-Work Emergency Fund’ to the NDLP in 2004 and 2005, comprising top-up of unemployment benefit for active job search (cf. ibid. 2003:7, 2004:6ff., 2005:41f.). “Also, from April 2005, the Government .. [announced to] cover the costs of formal childcare when a lone parent has found a job through NDLP for up to one week before they start work” (ibid. 2004:8). The 2004 British NAP, moreover, announced the introduction of the ‘New Deal for Skills’, rooting in the ‘National Skills Strategy’. It was foreseen to focus on the improvement of transition from welfare to work and from low-skilled to higher-skilled work as well as on skills counselling and support (cf. ibid. 2004:6, 2005:44). Additionally, ‘Jobcentre Plus’ was declared to be modernised by the de-centralisation of decisionmaking and fund management, the introduction of e-services as well as the extension of work-focused interviews for claimants of incapacity benefit and partners of unemployment persons as enshrined in the NDPU (cf. ibid. 2003:8, 2004:8). Regional initiatives such as the establishment of integrated jobs and benefits offices in Northern Ireland in 2003 amended national policies (cf. ibid. 2003:8). To enhance job creation and entrepreneurship, the 2003 NAP presented improvements in accessibility of finances and consultation for SME, research and National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 342 development of tax credits in order to relieve research-related business activities as well as the establishment of about 2,000 ‘Enterprise Areas’ to support entrepreneurial activities in most disadvantaged areas (cf. ibid.:10f.). Moreover, the 2003 ‘Local Authority Business Growth Incentives’ supported regional development and decentralisation by allowing “local authorities to retain an element of business rates income to be spent locally” (ibid.:11). The new 2003 programme ‘Better Policy Making: A Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessment’ prescribed impact assessments for SME activities (cf. ibid.), and further reforms of corporate taxes granting tax cuts or total exemptions for about 1,200,000 SME by increasing thresholds to £ 56,000 (cf. ibid.:12). Other new measures to improve the overall entrepreneurial environment included public funding of ‘Enterprise Advisors’, pupils’ pathfinders in public schools of disadvantaged areas, and a new national ‘Enterprise Promotion Fund’ (cf. ibid.). The 2004 NAP additionally reported on the 2003 ‘Women’s Enterprise Strategic Framework’ to enhance women’s entrepreneurial activities by improving childcare and care facilities, business support counselling, financial support and the facilitation of the move into self-employment (cf. ibid. 2004:9). Supporting adaptability and mobility in the labour market, the 2003 UK NAP announced, albeit not specified, “12 principles to intervention in the labour market that will be applied over the duration of the Guidelines and beyond to ensure that all regulatory proposals support the Government’s overall economic goals, including for a dynamic labour market” (ibid.:14). These principles embrace enhanced advice and information, improvement of policy-making and employment dispute settlement (cf. ibid. 2004:11). In order to increase the already high level of work organisation flexibility of the British labour market, the government adopted new legislation on working parents with children under six years of age or disabled children under 18 years of age, entitling them to request flexible working hours (cf. ibid. 2003:4). Moreover, the government adopted “the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations in April 2004. The main provisions include agencies in the entertainment and modelling sectors no longer being permitted to charge workers an upfront fee for providing work-finding services; employment businesses no longer being able to make payment of workers’ earnings conditional on them proving a timesheet signed by the hirer; and a new restriction on transfer fees, which had been placing barriers to workers moving into permanent employment” (ibid. 2004:11). Additionally, a strategic programme of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’, including a training academy, was set up in 2004 in order to increase business involvement to deliver social inclusion and to improve ecological and economic performance (cf. ibid.13). These activities were amended by the 2004 national ‘Strategy for Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010 and Beyond’ (cf. ibid.). In order to promote lifelong learning, the 2003 NAP pointed at the 2003 ‘Skills Strategy for England – 21st Century Skills Realising Our Potential’. The strategy merges existing instruments and includes tripartite social dialogue meetings under the ‘Skills Alliance’ to develop and finance training activities. Additional initiatives were the ‘Sector Skills Councils’ to define sector-related skills, and financial support National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 343 for low-skilled workers within the ‘Learning for Individual’ framework to enhance basic skills levels (cf. ibid.:19ff., 2004:2f.). Particular attention was announced to be given to ICT training to improve employability. Moreover, regional initiatives and programmes such as the revised Welsh ‘Skills and Employment Action Plan’ and ‘Individual Learning Account’ programme or the 2003 Scottish five year programme ‘Life Through Learning; Learning Through Life’ and ‘Business Learning Accounts’ provided for financial support for SME to invest in training (cf. ibid. 2003:21). The 2004 NAP, moreover, presented the 2003 ‘Entry to Employment’ programme as well as the 2004 revision of apprenticeship programmes as key activities to improve vocational training through a differentiation of apprenticeships (cf. ibid. 2004:14f.). To further promote active ageing, the 2003 NAP announced tax reforms “to allow people to draw their occupational pension and continue working for the sponsoring employer, and … to ensure that occupational pension rules do not discourage flexible retirement beyond normal retirement age. [Moreover, f]inancial incentives to remain in work after state pension age will be enhanced by offering more generous increases for deferring state pensions” (ibid.:25). Adding to these planned reforms, the ND reforms allowed for “customers aged 50 and over, who face particular disadvantage, to access back to work help before the current 6-month waiting period. Advisors can help customers with job-search, access to training, and advice on inwork financial support through the 50+ element of the Working Tax Credit” (ibid. 2004:18). To improve labour market integration of lone parents, the government announced to increase the 2006 national target to create 1.6 million childcare places by another 250,000 places (cf. ibid. 2003:25). Further financial assistance to support lone parents from 2004 onwards and measures to activate lone parents such as workfocused interview were additionally announced in the 2004 UK NAP (cf. ibid 2004:8 and 17). New measures to enhance labour market participation of incapacity benefit claimants included the ‘Return to Work Credit’ (RTWC), comprising financial support to take up work (cf. ibid. 2004:18) and ‘Pathways to Work’ actively supporting transition into the labour market for instance through targeted employment counselling until 2006 (cf. ibid. 2005:39) New activities to enhance gender equality included the ‘Women in Science, Engineering and Technology’ initiative, comprising a new resource centre for women in science, engineering and technology to advice and guide female participation as well as to collect and present best practices in this sector (cf. ibid.:30). Concerning the improvement of the work-life balance, the 2003 NAP announced “a right for all employees to take unpaid time off work to deal with family emergencies, the introduction of 13 weeks unpaid parental leave (18 weeks for parents of disabled children) and giving part-timers (and people on fixed term contracts) the same rights as full timers (and people on permanent contracts)” (ibid.:31). Moreover, the establishment of special ‘Children’s Centres’ to provide for learning and care opportunities in disadvantaged areas were announced (cf. ibid. 2004:22). Targeting at the fight against discrimination within the labour market, the government announced the intensification of placement support for incapacity benefit National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 344 claimants, an amendment of the ‘Disability Discrimination Act’ in 2004, comprising the extension of the definition of disability to severe diseases (cf. ibid. 2003:34, 2004:23), as well as the extension of the 2002 programme ‘Ethnic Minority Outreach’. Moreover, the government’s ‘Ethnic Minority Employment Task Force’ aimed at improving participation rates of this often disadvantaged group (cf. ibid. 2005:46). Measures to make work pay envisaged the augmentation of adult workers’ NMW to £ 4.50 per hour in October 2003 and to £ 4.85 per hour in October 2004. They also included the revision of NMW provisions for youth (cf. ibid.:36f., 2004:25). At the same time, also new ‘Child and Working Tax Credits’ were introduced in 2003 to increase incentives to take up work and improve the situation of families (cf. ibid. 2003:36, 2004:25). Activities to address regional employment disparities included the support for disadvantaged neighbourhoods through the launch of 12 intensified job placement activity pilot projects in 2004 (cf. ibid. 2003:45) and the establishment of ‘Regional Skills Partnerships’ in 2003 (cf. ibid. 2004:29). Related to the new 2005 ‘Integrated Guidelines’ (IGs), the 2005 British NRP deviated from the structure of the previous NAPs given that it had to structurally follow the welding of the BEPG and the EES within the renewed the Lisbon Strategy (cf. chapter So, the 2005 NRP took up the new IGs 17 to 24 related to the former EGs. Additionally, given the explicit focus on the evaluation of reforms since 2003, few new policies were announced. To further develop an inclusive labour market, the 2005 UK NRP introduced the amendment of the NDLP in 2005, developing it into the ‘ND plus for LP’ in order to provide for more targeted job search and placement support for lone parents (cf. ibid.:41). Additionally, the government presented the 2004 ‘Ten Year Childcare Strategy – Choice for Parents, the Best Start for Children’, aiming to enhance worklife balance to improve and increase childcare facilities for children up to 14 years of age, to set up a ‘Children’s Centre’ network and to establish before- and after-school care facilities for pupils (cf. ibid.:42). As measures to promote a lifecycle approach to work, the increase in earliest pension age to 55 years as well as in normal pension age for men within the public sector to 65 years were announced to become effective by 2010. By 2020, also the normal female pension age was announced to rise to 65 years of age. Additionally, flexibilisation of pension system payment was introduced in 2005, including the rise of deferral rates and different payment options to be freely chosen by the retiree (cf. ibid.:43). Thematically aligned with the reduction of labour market segmentation, the 2005 NRP referred to the support for most disadvantaged areas being extended to 903 single districts in order to enhance regional and local development (cf. ibid.:46). It, moreover, laid a future focus on the reduction of the gender pay gap to be supported by the 2005 “creation of the Women and Work Commission (WWC), which will make recommendations to the Prime Minister during January 2006 on tackling the gender pay gap and giving women a fairer deal in the workplace (ibid.:48). National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 345 Concerning education and training systems, the NRP presented the 2005 ‘Youth Masters’ Green Paper as a new initiative to enhance “information, advice and guidance on career choices post-16” (ibid.:30) in order to improve post-school labour market entry for young people. It, moreover, pointed at other new measures, including the 2004 ‘Education Maintenance Allowances’, providing for financial support for post-16 education and extending the assistance to unpaid trainees in 2006, as well as the ‘National Employer Training Programme’, financially supporting basic skills trainings (cf. ibid.:31), The 2003/04 and 2004/05 JER again bemoaned weak labour productivity and increasing inactivity rates (cf. Council of the EU/European Commission 2004:91, 2005b:Addendum 1, 92). The 2003/04 JER assessed the British employment policy strategy, as outlined in the 2003 NAP, to focus on social inclusion and full employment, with a clear tendency towards the latter. It was perceived to focus on the flexibilisation of work organisation and activation of incapacity benefit claimants, while in parallel it was also viewed not to provide for a detailed assessment regarding all three overarching EES targets (cf. ibid. 2004:91, 2005b:Addendum 1, 92). Concerning social dialogue, progress was acknowledged in view of the extension of the range of stakeholders’ organisations involved and the intensity of interactions with the social partners compared to previous years even without formal institutionalisation of national tripartite social dialogue structures (cf. ibid. 2004:92). The British approach towards improving the situation of low-skilled unemployed was critically assessed not to shine through in national programmes as was the aspect of gender mainstreaming of the 2003 NAP. Therefore, inclusion, reduction of inactivity rates and extension of basic skills remained major challenges for the British labour market (cf. ibid. 2005b:Addendum 1, 92ff.). Adding to this evaluation, the 2004/05 JER considered most of the British initiatives that responded to the 2004 Council recommendations as still in progress, that means being “well advanced and progress in implementation is being made” (ibid.:93). On the other hand, progress regarding the accessibility of childcare places, the reduction of the gender pay gap and the improvement of low-paid women’s training was assessed to have remained limited that means, “policy response to the recommendation is only partial and implementation is limited” (ibid.). While recognising the appropriateness of the 2005 UK NRP priority areas and the “well-balanced and focused” (ibid. 2006d:4) employment policy approach, the 2005/06 JER bemoaned the persisting weaknesses of previous years, inter alia the skills levels problem, low participation rates of most vulnerable groups as well as weakened stakeholder consultations in 2005 compared to 2004 (cf. ibid. 2006d:1ff.). National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 346 Table 32: Main British Socio-economic and Employment Policies and Innovations introduced from 2003 to 2005 Year Policy / Initiative Targeting at Thematically linked to the EES’s topic … Classed under EG/IG 2003 ND Reform ‘Building on New Deal’ Unemployed, Long-term Unemployed, Lone Parents Employability, Social Inclusion 1 2003 Local Authority Business Growth Incentives Regions Entrepreneurship, Regional Development, Cohesion 2 2003 Better Policy Making: A Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessment SME, Employers Entrepreneurship 2 2003 Enterprise Promotion Fund Business, SME, Employers Entrepreneurship 2 2003 Women’s Enterprise Strategic Framework Business, SME, Female Employers Entrepreneurship 2 2003 Skills Strategy for England–21st Century Skills Realising Our Potential Workforce Quality of Work, Employability 4 2003 Entry to Employment Youth Social inclusion, Employability 4 2003 Return to Work Credit Unemployed, Long-term Unemployed Social inclusion 5 2003 Pathways to Work Unemployed, Long-term Unemployed Social inclusion 5 2004 New Deal for Skills Workforce Employability, Social inclusion 1 2004 In-Work Emergency Fund Unemployed, Long-term Unemployed Employability, Social inclusion 1 2004 Enterprise Areas Business, Employers Entrepreneurship, Regional Development, Cohesion 2 2004 Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations Job Placement Agencies, Employees Social inclusion, Removing Labour Market Disincentives 3 National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 347 Year Policy / Initiative Targeting at Thematically linked to the EES’s topic … Classed under EG/IG 2004 Corporate Social Responsibility Business, Employers Social inclusion and Sustainability 3 2004 Strategy for Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010 and Beyond Employers, Employees Quality of Work 3 2004 Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Women Social inclusion, Employability, Equal Opportunities 6 2004 Children’s Centre Families, Lone Parents, Children Social inclusion, Adaptability, Equal Opportunities 6 2004 Reform of the Disability Discrimination Act Disabled Social inclusion, Equal Opportunities 7 2004 Ethnic Minority Employment Taskforce Ethnic Minorities, Immigrants Social inclusion, Adaptability, Equal Opportunities 7 2004 Child and Working Tax Credits Families, Lone Parents, Children Social inclusion, Equal Opportunities, Employability 8 2004 Ten Year Childcare Strategy – Choice for Parents, the Best Start for Children Families, Lone Parents, Children Social inclusion, Equal Opportunities 8 / 19 2005 ND plus for LP Lone Parents Social inclusion, Equal Opportunities, Employability 19 2005 Women and Work Commission Women Social inclusion, Equal Opportunities, Employability 21 2005 Youth Master Youth Social inclusion, Employability 24 2005 National Employer Training Programme Employers, Employees Employability, Basic Skills 24 Source: Own compilation based on chapter 5.1.2 and and While the 2002 NAP focused on further outbuilding the house by retaining the national socio-economic approach and designing a more strategic approach to structural adaptation, the NAPs/NRP during the period of the synchronised, streamlined, and welded EES concentrated on extending the driveway of the British socioeconomic edifice by expanding existing policy approaches. Apart from the functional division of the three NAPs/NRP–the 2003 NAP describing the British employment policy strategy from 2003 to 2005, the 2004 reporting on the implementa- National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 348 tion of the 2003 strategy and the 2005 evaluating it–the three UK NAPs/NRP, even if to different degrees, also reported on new policies. The 2004 NAP reported on the broadest range of policy reforms, while the 2005 NRP paid tribute to the revised focus of the EES and concentrated to a lesser degree on new employment policy reforms than its predecessors. Efficiency of reforms was frequently highlighted by reference to OECD or IMF evaluation. Especially the 2003 NAP and the 2005 NRP used this source to underline the adequacy of the national path. Major policy reforms concentrated on employability in 2003, employability and equal opportunities in 2004 and were rather balanced on all thematic focal points in 2005. Particularly the reform of the NDs, the ‘New Deal for Skills’, the ‘National Skills Strategy’, the ‘National Childcare Strategy’ as well as the ‘Women and Work Commission’ form major initiatives from 2003 to 2005. To some extent, the NAPs/NRP became less innovative under the synchronised, streamlined, and welded EES, but also increasingly less asymmetric in terms of ?-convergence (similarity towards a common model). Especially the 2003, but also the 2004 NAP broadly presented previous policy reforms, particularly the NDs and ‘Jobcentre Plus’, as pillars of the 2003 national employment policy strategy. Rather than re-designing the socio-economic edifice built up since 1997, existing parts of the domestic construction were presented as fitting for the new demands. More than in previous years, the 2003 and 2004 UK NAP integrated stakeholder and social partner positions as well as regional practices directly into the main text. They were thematically grouped under the single EGs, highlighting concordant and dissenting positions as well as best regional practices in particular text boxes. With this practice, these two UK NAPs even went beyond German practice (cf. 5.2). With the welding of the BEPG and the EES into one single document under the 2005 new Lisbon Strategy (cf. chapter, the EES and the EGs stepped back in visibility and became more subordinate to the broader macro- and micro-economic focus of the BEPG within the 2005 UK NRP. Within this document, moreover, the attribution of national policies under the single IGs became more blurred than in previous years following the new approach not to group policies directly under the respective IGs, but to present domestic policies under broader thematic areas. 5.1.3 Interim Assessment: The EES’s Impact on British Employment Policy Priorities – Policy Transfer and Diffusion leading to ?-Convergence? British employment policies underwent considerable reforms during the lifetime of the EES until 2005. Within this development, change in priorities was strongly related to the new policy approach of New Labour (cf. chapter 5.1.1) that introduced a shift towards activation, education and training, tax and welfare system reforms. It initially especially focused on most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as youth, lone parents, older workers, or disabled persons. This focus was later on extended to embrace the entire British workforce. Fostered by devolution since 2000, also regional activities related to the devolved administrations’ competences

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

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