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L’Europe sociale : entre modèles nationaux et coordination européenne

Abstract : From an institutional point of view, Social Europe appears like a multi-level set of policies. The European level itself has remained relatively under-developed, since the European integration process has focused on the economic components of integration, whereas social policies, according to the subsidiarity principle, remain mainly of State competency. Despite some common principles, which build the so-called European Social Model, national policies exhibit a wide range of policies, which lead to heterogeneous models (regimes). Since the 1980s, these policies and various components of Social Europe have been facing a new context: on the one hand, the transformations of the economic environment, of the social and political context, tend to make the traditional components of the welfare state as well as the Keynesian macroeconomic policies rather difficult to manage; on the other hand, the emergence of a new paradigm for economic policy, based on neo-classical economics, calls for a reduction of public expenditure and a focus on structural policies. In such a situation, theoretical analysis suggests that a better coordination of social policies could benefit to Europe, although the diversity of potential coordination forms is very high. The study of the recent dynamics of social Europe shows two trends. First, national welfare models have been reformed, showing some common trends (State retrenchment; activation and welfare to work, both putting the stress on employment as a prioritary goal), but still exhibitting some national specifities, which is close to the predictions of the path dependance theory. Second, new forms of coordination have been created at the European level since 1997, in the field of employment (European Employment Strategy), and more recently of social inclusion and pensions. This new tool (Open Method of Coordination) is based on the definition of common goals, benchmarking, and mutual policy learning on the basis of national experiences. Despite its informal character, it seems to have some impact on national actors behaviour through a leverage effect. Nevertheless, evaluation studies and theoretical arguments make think that it might not be enough to reinforce Social Europe.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 12, 2019 - 5:18:08 PM
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Christine Ehrel, Bruno Palier. L’Europe sociale : entre modèles nationaux et coordination européenne. Revue d’économie politique, 2005, 115 (6), pp.677 - 703. ⟨hal-02182451⟩

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