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Gaby Umbach, Explanative Benefits and the Need to Broaden the Analytical View in order to Explain Domestic Change and Persistence in:

Gaby Umbach

Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy, page 441 - 443

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
Final Conclusions 441 policy at the EU level and domestic policy change” (Bulmer/Radaelli 2004:13) can to be explicitly drawn. The Europeanisation impact of the EES is directly based on mutual learning, exchange of best practices and expert deliberation on national employment policies. It proved to have led “to the cross-fertilisation of ideas and learning” (Bulmer/Radaelli 2004:7). Europeanisation, hence, became “much more voluntary and nonhierarchical. … The lack of supranational powers in these policy areas [, thus,] explains the horizontal pattern of Europeanisation” (Bulmer/Radaelli 2004:7) as no vertical EU policy model is prescribed. Therefore, Europeanisation by the EES conceptually tends more towards horizontal cross-loading than towards up- or down-loading processes (cf. Bulmer/Padgett 2005:104). Nevertheless, even though non-binding, the EU exerts the main stimulus for cross-loading so that policy co-ordination in the case of the EES can be assessed as a process of top-down Europeanisation, that is, a vertically ‘inspired’, ‘instigated’, ‘steered’ and ‘delegated’ cross-loading exercise closer to vertical cross-loading than to non EU-induced horizontal cross-loading (cf. Radaelli 2003a:41). 6.2.2 Explanative Benefits and the Need to Broaden the Analytical View in order to Explain Domestic Change and Persistence In line with the assumptions of the third guiding thesis and in the light of the previous sub-chapter, the Europeanisation approach indeed proved to be an analytical concept fitting to explain the emergence of the OMC as well as the impact of this new instrument on the adaptation at national level in the UK and Germany (cf. chapter 2.1.2). It, generally, proved to be valuable to explain the different degrees of impact in the UK and in Germany, both regarding employment policy co-ordination structures and employment policies as well as with a view to changes of underlying domestic cognitive/normative structures (cf. chapter 2.3.1 and 2.3.2). Moreover and in line with the assumption of a ‘logic of appropriateness’ (cf. chapter 2.1.2.1), cognitive/normative structures proved to be an important domain of Europeanisation to evaluate to impact of the EES. Due to changes in this particular domain, domestic structures and employment policies were adapted to the EES in the long-run given that policy learning by exchange among experts and the expansion of common ‘constitutive rules’ for employment policies (cf. chapter 2.1.2.1) are key elements of the EES. As expected, a differential Europeanisation impact was found due to stronger exante misfit in Germany than in the UK. Yet, this differential impact was not caused by a fence-sitting position of Germany or a pace-setter role of the UK. Both countries responded rather equally to the Europeanisation pressures of the EES. Quite contrary to the assumed role models, stronger compliance in terms of policy output under the single areas of the EES was found in Germany than in the UK, given that– due to more unfavourable starting conditions–Germany had to invest stronger efforts to achieve ?-convergence. Hence, in line with the assumptions of the third guiding Final Conclusions 442 thesis, the curvilinear relation between domestic misfit and adaptation pressure (cf. chapter 2.1.2.1) in Germany did not lead to inertia in view of the adaptation of national policies. It rather instigated a considerable degree of Europeanisation of German employment policies, even if policy-makers did not often strategically use the EES to substantially change domestic approaches, but rather exploited the benefits of policy learning and mutual exchange. Moreover, the Europeanisation impact of the EES did not turn out to be uniform in all domains analysed. In the domain of domestic structures, Germany had fewer problems to comply with the structural elements of the EES, especially in view of social partner integration, than the UK given that systemic preconditions in Germany were indeed more in line with the EES-PCN than in the case of the UK (cf. chapter 2.2.1, 4.2.1 and 4.2.2). So, in line with the assumptions of the third guiding thesis, the explanative power of the Europeanisation approach became slightly imprecise in view of the direct causal-link relation of the EES’s impact on domestic adaptation. The relation between domestic misfit, adaptation pressure, and domestic change turned out to be partially blurred, diffuse, and varying in the case of the OMC compared to that of regulatory policies. Therefore, the Europeanisation approach analytically performed well in the cases of transformation (German public policies) due to higher domestic misfit. In cases of moderate misfit and an Europeanisation degree of absorption tending towards inertia (German domestic structures or British public policies), a closer look at the domestic traditions and changes of cognitive/normative structures was indispensable in order to identify reasons for moderate change or absence of change given that the low degree of Europeanisation in these cases could have been the result of extreme proximity (low misfit) or extreme distance (huge misfit) to the EES (cf. chapter 2.1.2.1). Thus, without a detailed in-depth analysis of British and German domestic traditions as well as past institutional and policy paths until t0 (the inception of the EES), as done within the theoretico-empirical part of this study, the result of a low Europeanisation degree could have been slightly misleading and merely indicating at the direction of change. Moreover, the simple existence or nonexistence of adaptation pressure did not explain the varying degree of domestic adaptation across the different domains of Europeanisation. Hence, the aspect of ‘ideational’ openness as well as ‘ideational’ misfit seemed to become a more important element than institutional or policy misfit within the given case. Moreover, given that due to missing legally bindingness of the OMC Europeanisation was not necessarily caused by domestic institutional and policy misfit resulting in adaptation pressure (even if this element still has to be regarded as a necessary starting point for Europeanisation), the willingness of political actors to engage in mutual learning and exchange of information exercises became an equally important explanative element for Europeanisation. Therefore, institutional and policy misfit alone did indeed not seem to be the most relevant explanative variable to elucidate domestic change and adaptation of underlying cognitive/normative structures. Additionally, the veto point variable for explaining domestic change–while still remaining relevant for the explanation of domestic adaptation processes–indeed did Final Conclusions 443 not prove to be as vital an explanative element as in the case of regulatory policies. Therefore, given that compliance pressure is reduced and the involvement of political actors of the national political systems is limited, the role and potential of domestic veto players is substantially limited in the case of policy co-ordination. As expected by the assumptions of the third guiding thesis, the Europeanisation approach, hence, reaches certain analytical limits with the EES and the OMC, beyond which the concept of institutional or policy misfit alone does not sufficiently explain domestic adaptation or the absence of change anymore and needs to be amended by the aspect of ‘ideational’ openness and misfit. With the EES and the OMC, it, hence, became more important than in the case of regulatory policy to take domestic systemic and policy traditions at the starting point t0 (inception) of the EES into full account in order to counterweight the results of analysis with the degree of ex-ante ‘Europeanisedness’ of domestic employment policy co-ordination structures and employment policies to point at underlying reasons for domestic adaptation or absence of change. Consequently, it proved to be more important to take into consideration a broader range of intervening variables and to look at the full range of domains of Europeanisation than in the case of regulatory policies as adaptation could not straightforwardly be attributed to compliance with the European soft co-ordination exercises alone. Therefore, in view of the analysis of the Europeanisation impact of the EES and the OMC in general, the potential impact of the instrument (cf. chapter 3.4) and type of domestic misfit needed to be explicitly categorised in order to attribute Europeanisation results to the different variables of the research design. Consequently, when analysing Europeanisation through the OMC, an indepth analysis of underlying cognitive/normative structures, national traditions, policy paradigms, veto points, and other systemic conditions in terms of ex-ante similarity and differences are indeed indispensable. Moreover, with the OMC it is even more important than in the case of regulatory policies to not only precisely categorise the potential impact of the instrument in advance, but also to take into consideration all domains of Europeanisation (cf. chapter 2.1.2.2.1), because the EES/OMC is no mechanism that merely succeeds or fails, but one that impacts in different ways at different levels and in different domains of the political systems of EU member states.

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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.