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The Sustainability of the European Social Model

The Sustainability of the European Social Model

EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe

Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

This book argues that the European Social Model can only be sustained in the current economic crisis if social and employment policies are adequately recognised as integral parts of European economic policy-making. The contributing authors investigate this hypothesis through comparative evaluations of interactions of EU economic governance with national systems of social protection. In particular they focus on two key policy areas – social services of general interest and the regulation of working time – as well as covering areas such as social inclusion, active ageing policies and job quality. By combining sociological approaches with legal analyses, the book provides unique insights and evaluation of EU methods of governance.

Chapter 4: EU governance on ageing: Older, wider and more influential than the OMCs

Miriam Hartlapp

Subjects: law - academic, european law, labour, employment law, law and society, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Nation states keep a firm grip on old age policies; they may be considered among the least likely issues to be dealt with at the supranational level. Yet, a number of community policies directly and indirectly exert influence on national old age policies. While the political science literature primarily focuses on the Open Method of Coordination on pensions, the chapter shows that these instruments are older, wider and more influential. Employing a policy analysis perspective, the chapter asks: When and how did these instruments develop? What are their (potential) effects? On this basis it is shown that the governance capacity of soft steering instruments, seeking to trigger reforms in the area of pensions, is typically overvalued. In contrast we tend to underestimate how much the EU forms national room to manoeuvre on ageing and old age security through legislative instruments establishing individual rights for equal treatment or through the free movement of capital and persons. The analysis draws on a number of case studies on different policy instruments and is based on 26 interviews, and primary and secondary document analysis.

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