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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 5: In search of a European Employment Strategy: The construction of the ‘job quality’ agenda as an illustrative case

Christine Erhel, Jérôme Gautié and Bernard Gazier

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


The European Employment Strategy is a key pillar of risk management at the European level. The ‘job quality’ agenda is a good illustration of the construction of an important component of the European Employment Strategy, in terms of its conception and implementation. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the evolution of this agenda. It shows that the process around job quality is characterised by strong hesitations at the European level, but also by a semi-autonomous process, which can be described as a bottom-up, deepening of the issue. The hesitations at the European level can be understood as the result of competing agendas – the ‘flexibilisation’ agenda promoted by the OECD and the IMF, and the ‘Decent Work’ agenda promoted by the ILO. Job quality has also been a fluctuating priority for social partners. But some actors at different levels seem to have committed themselves to a deepening process, as illustrated by some initiatives taken at national or regional level.

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