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Gaby Umbach, Interim Assessment: The EES’s Impact on British Employment Policy Priorities – Policy Transfer and Diffusion leading to ?-Convergence? in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 348 - 356

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
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 3.2.3.4), 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 National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 349 in the areas of education and training, regional economic development and entrepreneurship, health and social services or social inclusion, increased especially with the 2002 NAP. This particular NAP presented regional priorities more visibly than previous NAP. Also the integration of the opinions of stakeholder organisations and social partners into the domestic NAP became particularly visible since 2003/04, slightly aligning the national approach to the European idea of stronger integration of social partners even without further institutionalisation of national tripartite social dialogue structures. The new domestic policy focus introduced by New Labour strongly reflects the proximity of British employment policy priorities to the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES (interview UK-1, UK-5). The focus of the latter laying on synergies of active labour market policies, supply-side economic policies targeting at job creation, investment in human capital through education and training, equal participation, social security and inclusion as well as tax systems favourable to employment (cf. chapter 3.2.2, 3.2.3.2.2 and 3.2.3.4). Particularly early British reforms adopted from 1997/98 to 1999–the ND programmes, WFTC and CTC, JSA, NMW, DPTC, reforms of the education and training systems, but also the 2002 Jobcentre Plus–are most prominent examples for this proximity. In terms of ?-convergence (similarity towards a common model) 90 to the EES, British employment policies strongly benefited from this proximity of the national and supranational approach (interview EU-3, UK-1). This closeness resulted in a low level of domestic misfit, enabling a rather high level of compliance with the overall ‘policy ID’ the EES ever since its inception without the need to strongly Europeanise domestic policies through vertically ‘pushed’ horizontal cross-loading (cf. chapter 2.1.2.2). Hence, national socio-economic and employment policy reforms, while broadly complying with the EES, strongly pursued the main lines of government reforms that paid more tribute to domestic policy priorities than to supranational recommendations. The four pillars of the ‘stand-alone’ EES (1997/98-2002) quite soundly matched with the British approach. Yet, the EES’s ‘flexicurity’ and the equal opportunities paradigm needed more time-consuming translation into the domestic cognitive/normative structures than did other aspects of the EES, such as enhancing an entrepreneurial society or employability. Due to the overall proximity of the policy paradigms of the two levels, Europeanisation and adaptation pressures were rather low. Yet, compliance is to be regarded medium strong to strong with an asymmetry of ?-convergence towards the employability and partially the entrepreneurship ideas of the EES. The NDs of 1997/98, the ‘fraternal twin’ of the EES, built the centre and starting point of the extensive British reform programme. They were strategically developed alongside the priorities of New Labour and, hence, designed already before the EES became operational (interview UK-1). With their particular activation approach, the 90 Results concerning the other types of convergence (cf. chapter 2.1.2.3.1) are presented in chapter 6.1.2. National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 350 NDs initially focused on young people as well as on long-term unemployed, training programmes and the enhancement of employability. Following their success, the extension to other disadvantaged groups such as lone parents, older and disabled people followed already in 1999. Moreover, the reform of the social and welfare state system–including the JSA and several waves of tax and benefit reforms–not only improved the framework conditions for low-paid workers, families and other vulnerable groups. They also created a favourable policy environment for business activities and job creation, positively impacting on the overall economic performance and growth. Regarding this target group focus, British employment policy reforms were generally and from an early stage on in line with the EES’s ‘policy ID’ related to the integration of most vulnerable groups. Hence, ?-convergence in this sector was given, even if measures to improve the participation of women remained underdeveloped and increased only in the second half of the period analysed. In 1997/98, British socio-economic and employment policy reforms particularly matched with the employability pillar of the ‘stand alone’ EES. Altogether seven new programmes were adopted–most prominently the JSA, NDYP, ND 25+, NDLP, and NDDP. The latter two were also taking up the ideas of enhancing equal opportunities. Many of these policy innovations–such as the ILA, IiP, IiYP or the ‘Small Firms Training Loans’–focused on the improvement of learning opportunities for the workforce. Other national reforms related to the WFTC, the CTC, the ‘Joint Education Programme’, or the ‘National Childcare Strategy’ can be classed under the premises of the entrepreneurship and the equal opportunities pillar. Under both pillars, four new programmes were set up each, while under the adaptability pillar only three measures were introduced in 1997/98 (cf. table 33). Thus, already the first year of the EES revealed a trend towards ?-convergence with the ‘policy ID’ of the EES. There is, yet, sufficient evidence for suspicion that the intensity of ?-convergence to the supranational model was strongly inspired by a profound ex-ante proximity of the EES and British socio-economic and employment policy approaches (cf. chapter 2.2.2.1) that were partially up-loaded to the European level during the final stage of negotiations on Treaty of Amsterdam (cf. chapter 3.1.2.1). Reforms in 1999 took up this initial focus on employability with the introduction of six new programmes, inter alia the NMW, the DPTC, the ND 50+, and two other ND programmes concentrating on musicians and creative artists. Initiatives under the other pillars were partially left behind (cf. table 33). Two new key initiatives under the entrepreneurship pillar concentrated on the establishment of the SBS and WBLA also taking up the idea of lifelong learning. To enhance equal opportunities, only one new programme, the NDPU, was established. Hence, in 1999 the initial trend of ?-convergence towards the entire ‘policy ID’ of the EES turned into a certain asymmetry towards employability. In 2000, this asymmetry continued with the introduction six new key policies related to employability, such as the NDCIS, the NDIF, ‘Job Grants’ and the ‘Disability Discrimination Act’. Yet, activities under the entrepreneurship, like the ‘Enterprise Fund’ and ‘PRIME’, and under the equal opportunities pillar, with the establishment of the ‘Equal Opportunities Strategy for the Career Service’ and the ‘Work- National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 351 Life Challenge Fund’, increased with three new key programmes under each pillar. As in previous years, activities under the adaptability pillar lagged behind. The overall picture, hence, provides for evidence of the continuation of an increased asymmetry of ?-convergence favouring the first two pillars of the EES, even if the 2000 NAP was more balanced than its predecessors. For 2001, the analysis revealed the strongest asymmetry regarding developments under the single pillars, strengthening the bias towards the employability and the entrepreneurship pillar (cf. table 33). Five new activities under each of these pillars constitute the core of government activities, while the other two pillars were neglected. Yet, in parallel to this certain bias, activities also concentrated on regional development through targeted business support and neighbourhood renewal programmes as well as on enhancing equal opportunities, aiming to increase the employability of ethnic minorities. Although elements of the third and the fourth pillar were integrated into activities under the first and the second pillar, the trend of asymmetric ?-convergence of the previous years continued in 2001 and new policy initiatives seemed to pay little tribute to the 2001 Council recommendations. Reforms in 2002 started to re-shift the attention towards the lifelong learning and training element of the EES. Although again the highest number of new initiatives was launched under the employability pillar–altogether nine compared to one under the adaptability and three under the equal opportunities pillar–the overall focus was laid on increasing skills to enhance employability. Moreover, the adoption of an ‘Equal Pay Review Model’ additionally points at a shift to greater attention towards EES’s elements beyond employability. Having taken some three years to impact, the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Council recommendations seem to have had a certain influence to re-direct attention towards these areas in 2002. This trend slightly re-balanced the 1999 to 2001 asymmetry also by the ‘Jobcentre Plus’ programme partially responding to recommendations on improving early intervention and the ‘Equal Pay Review Model’ as well as the GIA, reacting to the gender pay gap criticism. While ?-convergence still remained asymmetric, the overall contents of new policies shifted towards greater integration of an increased number of core features of the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES. With the synchronisation, streamlining, and welding of the EES with the BEPG in 2003 and 2005 (cf. chapter 3.2.3.2 and 3.2.3.4), British employment policy reforms partially turned away from the strong focus on employability. In 2003, three new programmes were initiated under the thematic focus of the former employability pillar compared to four related to entrepreneurship and two to adaptability. In 2004, four new initiatives concentrated on employability, while under the former entrepreneurship pillar one new was set up, three focused on adaptability and five on enhancing equal opportunities. Finally, under the new Lisbon process in 2005, two new policies focused again on employability, one on adaptability, and one on equal opportunities. Hence, the early ‘post-stand-alone’ EES period shifted away from employability, re-balancing the asymmetric ?-convergence to the ‘policy ID’ of the EES. National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 352 With this record, British employment policy reforms broadly concentrated on the area of employability with 42 key activities, followed by 19 key measures adopted under the thematic umbrella of the entrepreneurship pillar, 17 under the equal opportunities focus and only 11 taken to enhance adaptability of the labour market (cf. table 33). Given this focus on the improvement of access to the labour market, the strengthening of incentives to take up work through tax and benefit reforms and the increase in training activities, Anglo-Saxon labour market traditions (cf. chapter 2.2.2.1) shine through and influence adaptation to the EES. Table 33: Number of Main British Socio-Economic Policies adopted under the EES’s Pillars and Thematic Focal Points from 1997/98 to 2005 1997/ 98 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Total Employability 7 6 6 5 9 3 4 2 42 Entrepreneurship 4 2 3 5 - 4 1 - 19 Adaptability 3 - 1 - 1 2 3 1 11 Equal Opportunities 4 1 3 - 3 - 5 1 17 Source: Own compilation based on chapter 5.1 and Annex 7. Asymmetric ?-convergence towards the ‘policy ID’ of the EES did not seem to have the power to fundamentally level persisting domestic shortcomings through policy diffusion or coercive policy transfer (cf. chapter 2.1.2.3.1) instigated by the Council recommendations. Main problems repeatedly criticised by the Council were the need to integrate youth, women and disadvantaged persons into the labour market, to reduce the gender pay gap, to combat low basic skills levels and high inactivity rates, to decrease the concentration of unemployment in disadvantaged groups and areas with pockets of high unemployment as well as to enhance the implementation of lifelong learning initiatives. Further criticism was repeatedly raised concerning the improvement of supply of childcare facilities, the enhancement of the balance between flexibility and social security, labour productivity rates, as well as longterm unemployment with remaining high inflow rates. Regarding the implementation of the EGs and Council recommendations, differences in problem perception between the UK and the EU level prevailed during the period under analysis especially due to the mismatch of European provisions with British national traditions. So, supranational criticism on the UK voluntarist, ad-hoc and de-centralised social dialogue model was repeatedly encountered by reference to distinct national traditions and priorities reflecting domestic institutional and policy paths and systemic consensus within the British political arena. The same holds true for recommendations related to early intervention at 12 months, which was rejected based on the deviation from national practice and experience and instrumental inadequacy (cf. 4.1.1). Na tio nal Ad apt ati on to the ‘P oli cy ID ’ o f th e E ES 20 00 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 U ni te d K in gd om 4 - F oc us o n th e g en de r p ay ga p - E nc our ag e t he so ci al pa rtn er sh ip a pp ro ac h to ac hi ev e a b et te r b al an ce be tw ee n fle xi bi lit y an d se cu rit y - U pg ra de th e s ta tis tic al m on ito rin g sy ste m - P ol ic ie s t ha t h el p re co nci le ch ild ca re p ro vi sio ns , w or k an d fa m ily li fe 4 - I m pr ov e t he b al an ce o f po lic y im pl em en ta tio n of th e EG s - F oc us on th e i ss ue of ge nd er p ay g ap ; m or e eq ua lit y in te rm s o f p ay and a cc es s t o em pl oy m en t; po lic ie s t ha t h el p re co nc ile w or k an d fa m ily li fe - R ei nfor ce a ct iv e la bour m ar ke t p ol ic ie s f or ad ul t un em pl oy ed b ef or e 1 2 m on th o f u ne m pl oy m en t - I m pr ov e e ffo rts to im pl em en t l ife lo ng le ar ni ng , tra in in g, g en er al u psk ill in g 4 - F os te r s oc ia l p ar tn er sh ip at th e n at io na l l ev el - F oc us on th e i ss ue of ge nd er p ay g ap ; m or e eq ua lit y in te rm s o f p ay and a cc es s t o em pl oy m en t; po lic ie s t ha t h el p re co nc ile w or k an d fa m ily li fe - R ei nfor ce a ct iv e la bour m ar ke t p ol ic ie s - I m pr ov e e ffo rts to en co ur ag e an d de ve lo p w or kba se d tra in in g an d up sk ill in g 4 - F os te r s oc ia l p ar tn er sh ip at th e n at io na l l ev el - F oc us on th e i ss ue of ge nd er p ay g ap ; m or e eq ua lit y in te rm s o f p ay and a cc es s t o em pl oy m en t; po lic ie s t ha t h el p re co nc ile w or k an d fa m ily li fe - R ei nfor ce a ct iv e la bour m ar ke t p ol ic ie s p ar tic ula rly fo r d isa dv an ta ge d gr ou ps - I nc re as e o pp or tu ni tie s an d in ce nt iv es to w or k (e .g . r ef or m si ck ne ss an d di sa bi lit y be ne fit s) 4 - I m pr ov e p ro du ct iv ity o f w or k, b al an ce w ag e d ev el op m en t a nd p ro du ct iv ity - I nc re as e o pp or tu ni tie s an d in ce nt iv es to w or k (e .g . r ef or m si ck ne ss an d di sa bi lit y be ne fit s) - F oc us on th e i ss ue of ge nd er p ay g ap ; m or e eq ua lit y in te rm s o f p ay and a cc es s t o em pl oy m en t; po lic ie s t ha t h el p re co nc ile w or k an d fa m ily li fe , i m prov e ac ce ss to c hi ld ca re and de pen dan t p ers ons ’ ca re p la ce s - i m pl em en ta tio n of n atio na l a nd re gi on al sk ill s str at eg ie s; pr ov id e b et te r in ce nt iv es to li fe lo ng le ar ni ng ; i m pr ov e b as ic sk ill s l ev el s Sour ce : Cou nc il of th e EU 2000 b: X V :1-4, 2001 :3 7, 2002b :8 0, 20 03 e: 30, 2004b :5 8. 353 Na tio nal Ad apt ati on to the ‘P oli cy ID ’ o f th e E ES T ab le 3 4: R ec om m en da tio ns u nd er th e E E S ad dr es se d to th e U K f ro m 2 00 0 to 2 00 4 and de pen dan t p ers ons ’ National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES interest in demonstrating compliance exists given that existing national employment in line with the EES’s ‘policy ID’ and to , that the UK–due to the proximity of the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES–found it easie in other EU member states, because–already EES–the domestic employment policy approach was rather close to its overall ‘policy ID’. So, less structural reforms were necessary and made in order to meet the EES, the UK was also assessed to have “become more ambitious since the beginning phasis is placed on making employment opportunities more inclusive” (Council of the EU/European Commission 2003:273) and on improving transition from benefit main lines of the EES have been taken up in national policies. Reforms have “to a Em loyment Guidelines” (ECOTEC 2002:1). Nevertheless, it can be assumed that Labour introduced changes “promoting flex ble working practices, ensuring minitivity” (Council/European Commission 2003:273) During the lifetime of he EES until 2005, British employment policies developed ?-convergence to the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES has to be considered National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 354 So, in cases of strong national traditions and priorities, the ‘agree to disagree’ approach (cf. chapter 4.1.1) defended domestic policies and practices. Thus, due to strong domestic intervening variables, with the coercive aspects of the EES and the recommendations being more or less neglected by the government, the adaptation pressures of the EES did not lead to ?-convergence in the short run (interview EU-3; cf. Hodson 2004:302). The strong performance of the British labour market and the perception of employment policies remaining a ‘domaine réservé’ of EU member states’ political sovereignty additionally backed this neglect. So, according to UK officials interviewed, the EES and the annual production of the NAP did not provide for a powerful framework to force changes of employment policies in case of national dissent. Owing to the softness of the OMC applied with the EES, it is rather perceived as a useful inspiration for domestic policy reforms and as a good source of information on best national practices of other EU member states. It is, however, not assessed to provide for significant means to enforce reforms of the national labour market (cf. Hodson 2004:302). Yet, in the long-run, the EES seems to have altered the cognitive/normative dimensions of domestic employment policies in some areas, such as the social dialogue practice turning towards a more inclusive approach since 2003 or the aspect of segregation within the labour market and the gender pay gap moving towards the heart of domestic reforms during the synchronised, streamlined, and welded phase of the EES. The most vital motivation to support the EES was assessed to lie in the opportunity to encourage reforms in neighbouring economies via voluntary policy transfer through influence, as inspired by bilateral exchange with Denmark or with France on tax reforms and the 35-hours model (cf. chapter 4.2.1.3 and 4.2.1.5), rather than through emulation or synthesis (cf. chapter 2.1.2.3.1) by the EES’s instruments of best practice, bench-marking, peer review, consensus building, and facilitation of exchange between EU member states (interview UK-1, UK-2, UK-5). With a view to the annual NAP procedure, some UK officials interviewed critically identified a general approach to have been developed to perceive the NAP neither as a political document nor as a ‘policy-delivery mechanism’ given that within it, past and future government policy initiatives are collected, compiled and outlined, without putting emphasis on the development of new policy initiatives especially related to the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES (interview EU-3, UK-1, UK- 3, UK-4). On the background of missing coercive powers of the EES, it was assessed to be rather rare to bring forward entirely new proposals within the NAPs that were not deliberated earlier within the national political arena (interview UK-4). Thus, the annual NAP is assessed to be created as a method of information exchange at the European level (interview UK-1, UK-2). Therefore, at least by some British officials91, the NAP seems to be considered more as a report on policy approaches and instruments already in place and on the efficiency of national reform activities indicating at future reforms requirements (cf. Hodson 2004). Nevertheless, a general 91 This sort of perception was also confirmed by the social partners interviewed (interview UK- 3, UK-4, UK-5). National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 355 interest in demonstrating compliance exists given that existing national employment policies are presented to be sufficiently in line with the EES’s ‘policy ID’ and to respond to European demands. However, regardless of these efforts, according to British officials, no policy changes would be introduced if recommended by the European level, but not in line with the general government agenda (interview UK- 1). This rather low profile of the EES and the NAP as a means to put forward reforms might also be influenced by the fact, that the UK–due to the proximity of the national socio-economic approach and the Anglo-Saxon welfare state model to the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES–found it easier than other member states to respond to the core aims of the latter. Based on the above analysis, the EES might have had less impact in the UK than in other EU member states, because–already at the time of the establishment of the EES–the domestic employment policy approach was rather close to its overall ‘policy ID’. So, less structural reforms were necessary and made in order to meet the Lisbon and Stockholm targets (interview UK-2, UK-5). Yet, regarding the overall development of British employment policies under the EES, the UK was also assessed to have “become more ambitious since the beginning of the Employment Strategy, with an improved policy mix involving a progressive shift towards the disadvantaged and encouraging the inactive into workforce. Emphasis is placed on making employment opportunities more inclusive” (Council of the EU/European Commission 2003:273) and on improving transition from benefit systems back into work. Alongside this assessment, it can be concluded that the main lines of the EES have been taken up in national policies. Reforms have “to a large extend [been] developed along the same lines as those set out in the annual Employment Guidelines” (ECOTEC 2002:1). Nevertheless, it can be assumed that policy change in some areas would have taken place also without the support of the EES (interview UK-4, UK-5), such as within the area of adaptability, where New Labour introduced changes “promoting flexible working practices, ensuring minimum levels of security, and on modernising work organisation to improve productivity” (Council/European Commission 2003:273). Yet, the speed and direction of reforms might have differed without the EES. During the lifetime of the EES until 2005, British employment policies developed a tight net of activities covering a broad range of different policy areas in order to raise employment levels. The overall activation approach of these reforms extended the distinctive British path of flexible, de-regulated, and de-centralised labour market traditions (cf. chapter 2.2.2.1). The UK, yet, also defended some domestic traditions vehemently against supranational criticism where assessed inappropriate. Therefore, ?-convergence to the overall ‘policy ID’ of the EES has to be considered against the factors of proximity, parallelism and protected diversity. National Adaptation to the ‘Policy ID’ of the EES 356 5.2 German Employment Policies under the EES: Deviating from the Bismarckian System, ORDO-Liberalism, ‘Global Guidance’, Neo-liberalist Monetarism, and the ‘Neue Mitte’ under the Burdens of Re-Unification? Until the inception of the EES, German labour market and employment policies lagged behind the development of the UK towards a more proactive approach (cf. chapter 2.2.2.2). The development of German employment policies ever since the Bismarckian welfare state paved the way for the post-war consensus on ORDOliberalism, social market economy and political steering and later on ‘global guidance’. At the same time, a strong autonomy of social partners with the right to free collective bargaining and regulation of industrial relations emerged. After the end of the ‘Keynesian-inspired approach’ to employment policies– ceased by economic down-turn and rising unemployment–a turn towards neoliberalism was to be witnessed during the 1980s, albeit less radical than in the British case. This new supply-side neo-liberal economic concept of the conservative Kohl government focused on low state interventionism and privatisation, cutbacks in social protection as well as on the reduction of legal-administrative burdens on the economy. The 1980s, moreover, witnessed monetarist management of money supply, market de-regulation, and the decrease of company taxes in order to unleash market mechanisms to achieve economic growth. This neo-liberal supply-side approach also affected domestic employment policies with a shift towards activation measures, which–not the least due to reunification–were, yet, less successful than in the UK. During the Kohl government, reforms and change affected the tightening of control mechanisms and eligibility criteria for benefit payments, the increase of efforts to reduce long-term unemployment, the slackening of labour market provisions, the expansion of temporary employment, the extension of education, training, and qualification programmes as well as settling-in grants and public wage contributions (cf. Deutscher Bundestag 1997). Even if these policy reforms brought initial relieve in terms of increasing economic and employment growth, the consequences of re-unification, ageing society, and modernisation requirements revealed profound difficulties to adapt the German labour market to the new circumstances. They led to the increase of non-wage labour costs, a profound slow-down in economic growth and the tremendous upsurge of public debt as well as structural unemployment especially in East Germany (cf. chapter 2.2.2.2). Moreover, strong trade unions forcefully protected social security standards for the employed workforce at the expense of unemployed. Additionally, missing childcare facilities and a rather work-life balance unfriendly societal environment hampered increased female participation.

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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.