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About this book

Social policy has become an increasingly prominent component of the European Union's policy-making responsibilities. Today, for example, a highly developed body of law regulates equal treatment in social security and co-ordinates national security schemes; national health services have opened up to patients and service providers from other states; and rules govern the translation of educational and vocational certificates across member states. This state of affairs is all the more remarkable given the relatively limited resources at the EU's disposal and the initial intentions of its founders.

During negotiations for the Treaty of Rome in the 1950s, social policy was viewed as the exclusive provenance of the member states. There were to be provisions to facilitate labour mobility within the common market, but until the 1970s social policy making at the EU-level was modest. However, plans for the internal market moved social policy on the EU's decision-making agenda. The Social Chapter was adopted in 1989, and the Single European Act expanded EU competencies in social policy. The Treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice all expanded competencies further, so that by the time the heads of government met in Lisbon in 2007 to sign the EU's latest treaty, the extent of supranational control over important aspects of social policy making was quite impressive.

This important book provides a full account of the evolution of social policy in the EU and of its current reach. It examines the reasons for the increased role of the EU in the area, in spite of formidable obstacles, and details its effects in member states, where social provision is often the biggest item in government budgets and a crucial issue in national elections. Drawing on research done on welfare states around the world and on European integration, this book provides a distinctive and sophisticated account of social policy in Europe, showing how it must now be understood in the context of multi-level governance in which EU institutions play a pivotal role.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The men who negotiated the Treaty of Rome in the 1950s viewed social policy as the exclusive province of the member states; European Union (EU) intervention would only be necessary in order to facilitate labour mobility within the common market and channel resources (administered by the member states) to regions experiencing high unemployment. These limited social policy competences bore little resemblance to the social policy regimes in the member states. Indeed, the principle underlying EU social policy in the 1950s held that the member states would retain control over nearly all aspects of social policy. EU social policy would merely complement, rather than challenge or constrain, national social policy. Intergovernmental decision-making based on unanimity would ensure that the member states retained social policy sovereignty.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 2. Explaining Social Policy-making in the EU

Abstract
This chapter provides the conceptual and theoretical tools for understanding the development of social policy in the EU. First, it supplies the conceptual foundations for the chapters that follow by discussing the most important dimensions of social policies, including rules governing benefit access, financing and administration/provision. Second, it discusses the dominant approaches to explaining the development of EU social policy within the overall framework of multilevel governance, including the Europeanization literature (Majone, 1996; Scharpf, 1999, 2002; Hooghe and Marks, 2001). The chapter provides a synthesis of arguments drawn from the welfare state and multilevel governance literatures in order to explain the paradox of social policy integration despite institutional constraints.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 3. Social Policy and Multilevel Governance

Abstract
This chapter focuses on the development of EU social policy in historical perspective, emphasizing the ambiguous status of social policy in the 1957 Treaty of Rome and subsequent efforts to enlarge the EU’s social policy remit despite weak treaty provisions. As Chapters 1 and 2 discussed, the European integration project has been dominated by negative integration, or the liberalization of markets for goods, labour, services and capital. This process of removing barriers to economic exchange has encroached on national welfare states, affecting core areas like pensions and health care. Despite growing support for positive social policy initiatives at EU level since the 1970s, positive social policy integration has lagged significantly behind the market-building process, largely because of the difficulty of transferring social policy competences from the national to the EU level. The wide diversity of social policy institutions in the member states makes compromise in the Council difficult, and the high level of agreement required in EU decisionmaking institutions for positive measures exacerbates this.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 4. Social Security and Pensions

Abstract
Social security and pensions intersect with the European integration process in several ways:
1.
They are core aspects of employment and thus deeply implicated in the internal market for labour. This means that EU laws concerning labour mobility and the equal treatment of men and women in employment are important areas of EU social policy legislation.
 
2.
Privately organized occupational pension funds are increasingly part of a single market for financial services. Although the funded occupational pension sector is small relative to public schemes in most member states, it is growing in importance, and in several member states occupational pension assets exceed 50% of GDP.
 
3.
The financial costs associated with public pension schemes — and the threat these costs purportedly pose to public budgets and EMU — has prompted the EU to use soft law to promote pension reform in the member states, largely via the open method of coordination (OMC).
 
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 5. Employment Policy

Abstract
Labour markets are an important vehicle for EU social policy-making because of the centrality of the employment relationship in the market-making process. As other chapters in this book demonstrate, the construction of the internal market and the guarantee of labour mobility are key routes through which European integration influences social policy at EU level and in the member states. With the deepening of the integration process in the 1980s and 90s, however, the scope of EU action concerning employment took on new salience. The completion of the internal market sparked concerns that employment would be sacrificed, or at least de-emphasized, in the process of market-building. Many centreleft political actors feared a Europe dominated by the concerns of business, with potentially disastrous consequences for large groups of ordinary workers. The introduction of the European Employment Strategy (EES) in 1997 was a direct response to these concerns. At the same time, the development of EU law and jurisprudence concerning equal rights for men and women in the workplace spurred a flurry of policy activity concerning women’s employment, especially the reconciliation of work and family.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 6. Vocational Training and Higher Education

Abstract
The Treaty of Rome envisioned the EU’s role in vocational education and training (VET) as a vehicle for helping the member states to retrain workers displaced by the establishment of the common market. If the treaty saw VET as a tool of market-building, it was completely silent concerning higher education. Despite these early constraints, a developmental process similar to harmonization has taken place in both fields. The member states now share a common two-cycle degree structure in higher education (the European Education Area created by the Bologna Process) where none existed before, and they have introduced a European Qualifications Framework (EQF) designed to make vocational qualifications comparable and transferable across national borders. Secondary legislation and non-binding tools of social policy-making have also shaped the development of other aspects of EU education and training policy. The EU has used hard law to facilitate the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and there is a long tradition of using action programmes, recommendations and other soft law instruments to nudge member state policies in specific directions. Moreover, the European Social Fund has been an important source of funding and, more recently, innovation in VET policies.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 7. Health Policy

Abstract
Health policy is a field where European integration was never supposed to have much influence, except for measures related to migrant workers and occupational health and safety. When the founding treaties were negotiated, the member states naturally assumed that they would remain firmly in control of health policy, especially their health care systems. The limited provisions in the founding treaties concerning health policy were, nonetheless, the basis for modest EU interventions in public health as well as occupational health and safety in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Just as the EU’s founders intended, the member states seemed to be firmly in control of health care policy during this period, and they showed little inclination to transfer any more health policy competences to the European level other than the limited ones already in place. The reinvigoration of the integration process in the 1980s and the adoption of the Single European Act (SEA) in 1986 signalled the beginning of a new phase of EU health policy activism by including a modest expansion of EU competence in public health.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 8. Poverty and Social Inclusion

Abstract
This chapter analyses the remarkable expansion of EU initiatives to combat poverty and social exclusion since the 1970s. The Lisbon Treaty elevated social inclusion to one of the core goals of the EU, and the EU’s newest growth strategy — Europe 2020 — emphasizes the goal of inclusive growth. At the level of discourse, then, social inclusion now occupies a prominent place on the EU policy agenda. Concrete results have been disappointing, however, largely because of the difficulty of measuring and comparing social exclusion in different national contexts, variations in the role played by poverty alleviation and social inclusion in the different welfare mixes of EU member states, and the ineffectiveness of the soft law provisions that underpin the EU’s social inclusion strategy.
Karen M. Anderson

Chapter 9. Conclusion

Abstract
The goal of this book has been to analyse the causes and consequences of EU social policy development. The analysis presented here draws on historical institutionalist theory to account for the slow, uneven and often unintended and unexpected process of social policy integration. It would be an exaggeration to say that a fully fledged social policy regime exists at EU level, at least in the form of income maintenance programmes and social services financed by taxation and social contributions. As this book emphasizes, EU social policy is predominantly regulatory — it sets out rules, parameters and prescriptions that constrain and/or guide social policy development in the member states. In other words, the member states share social policy-making competence with EU institutions; national welfare states are nested within the EU’s supranational regulatory framework. This final chapter addresses the implications of EU social policy development for the future of national welfare states in the EU, the legitimacy of the EU project, and the future of the European social model.
Karen M. Anderson
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