Transforming European Employment Policy

Transforming European Employment Policy

Labour Market Transitions and the Promotion of Capability

Edited by Ralf Rogowski, Robert Salais and Noel Whiteside

Since the mid 1990s, the focus of European employment and social policy has shifted from protection to promotion. This book provides a timely analysis of this new form of governance, and the new forms of policy delivery and audit which accompany it.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Robert Salais, Ralf Rogowski and Noel Whiteside

Subjects: law - academic, european law, law and society, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, labour policy


Robert Salais, Ralf Rogowski and Noel Whiteside Over the last twenty years, European employment and social policy have undergone a dramatic transformation. The burden of labour market adjustments was transferred to the individual employee or welfare recipient via activation policies. Attention has shifted from the provision of social protection to the promotion of employment: new forms of governance, accompanied by the introduction of new forms of policy delivery and audit, have emerged as central characteristics of the new European Employment Strategy (EES). One main focus of this book lies in addressing the limitations of this approach, limitations which became particularly apparent during the financial crisis since 2008. The book’s aim is to provide ideas for an alternative European reform agenda that employs insights from two influential theoretical approaches, the transitional labour market approach and the capabilities approach, drawn from the work of Amartya Sen. The two theoretical approaches share the fate of being known in Brussels, but misunderstood and neglected as far as their implications for European policy are concerned. This observation is especially pertinent for the capabilities approach but also holds true for the transitional labour markets approach, despite the influence it has had on the EES.1 The neglect is in part related to a drift from policies designed to substantially affect social reality to measures that are merely intended to amplify political communication, a trend that is gaining ground in Europe (and which would merit further study but lies beyond the confines of our book). Announcing a rising...