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 8: Democratic governance and policy coordination in the EU

Anna Michalski

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


In the last 20 years, European integration has had a growing impact on national policies and political and administrative structures as a result of EU legislation and the rulings of the European Court of Justice. In parallel with the traditional perspective on European integration by law, other alternative modes of governance have emerged. These new forms of governance are noticeable also in the field of economic and social policy where increasingly elaborate policy coordination processes have been set up as a response to the complex public policy problems caused by contemporary social phenomena and deepened European integration. Policy coordination was brought in as an alternative form of EU governance to address implications of deep economic interdependence but one which did not necessitate formal transfer of competences to the EU.The introduction of the euro brought the issue of convergence of national economic policy and welfare regimes to the forefront. The common monetary policy carried a risk to economic competitiveness which differed significantly among European economies and exposed the euro area countries to the challenges of deep economic interdependence. At the time, however, the ëconstitutional asymmetryí was extended into the framework of the EMU as the European monetary regime could not, for political reasons, be matched by an integrated framework of economic policy on the European level. Facing a number of similar challenges to economic competitiveness and sustainability of national welfare systems, the European political leaders, meeting in the European Council in March 2000, decided to launch the Lisbon Strategy.

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