Chapter 1: Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe: Setting the Scene
Ruud Muffels 1.1 INTRODUCTION This book seeks to gain a better understanding of the paradoxical relationship between the alleged need for European labour markets to become more flexible and the way in which national policies pursue this aim without jeopardising existing high standards of income and employment security. The book devotes special interest to the way in which countries opt for different policy routes to cope with the aim of balancing flexibility and security goals in their respective labour market and social protection policies. The idea of policies focusing on balancing flexibility and security goals has become key now in the European social policy debate under the heading of ‘flexicurity’ (Wilthagen, 1998; Wilthagen and Tros, 2004). This volume tries to document the differences and similarities of the various labour markets in Europe in coping with the pressures of enhancing the flexibility of its labour markets and simultaneously maintaining employment security. All labour markets confront changing mobility and working patterns albeit to a different extent and complexity causing what is called a diversification or individualisation of careers and life courses. The book examines in particular the potential trade-offs between economic and social goals translated into the question as to how and to what extent employment regimes in Europe are capable – through their particular institutional design – of attaining fairly high levels of flexibility and employment and income security simultaneously. The book deals with this relationship by examining the role and performance of welfare states and employment regimes for attaining high levels of...
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