The Changing Welfare State in Europe

The Changing Welfare State in Europe

The Implications for Democracy

Edited by David G. Mayes and Anna Michalski

The welfare state in Europe has been reformed gradually over the past two decades, with the intensification of the economic and monetary union and the addition of fifteen new members to the EU. This book explores the pressures that have been placed on the welfare state through a variety of insightful and thought-provoking contributions.

Chapter 2: Social models in the enlarged European Union

David G. Mayes and Zaidah Mustaffa

Subjects: politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


The purpose of this chapter is to explore the way in which the developments of the last decade have altered the nature of the structure of European welfare systems. Up until recently it was accepted that welfare systems in the EU could be characterized under four general headings: ëAnglo-Saxoní, ëContinentalí, ëScandinavianí and ëSoutherní (see Muffels et al., 2002; Sapir, 2006), although the exact titles and countries included varied among studies. The characteristics can readily be summarized under what is described as the ëwelfare triangleí (see Figure 2.1, which is adapted from Muffels et al.). However, this neatness is being disturbed by three main factors. Most obviously there are 12 new member states, drawn primarily from central and eastern Europe. Second, welfare regimes have been subjected to the forces of globalization and integration. Indeed, the EU has been encouraging a process of mutual learning through the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) that applies in this area, which has been a contribution to countries adopting some of the better ideas from their neighbours and hence blurring the boundaries. Last, as pointed out by Schelkle (2008), welfare systems are not homogeneous. Countries do not necessarily approach education and health in the same way that they approach employment, disability or old age. There is variety even within the provision of public services, such as libraries, transport and public open spaces in a single country.

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