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 2: Social and Labour Market Reforms: Four Agendas

Peter Auer and Bernard Gazier

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


Peter Auer and Bernard Gazier INTRODUCTION The number of declarations, communications and decisions of the EU Commission, and of numerous reports and articles on flexicurity in Europe, bears witness to the success of this concept in European employment policy debates. Even in the USA the (Danish) model was enthusiastically discussed by prominent commentators and academics such as Robert Kuttner and Dani Rodrik. The concept is now as well known in other parts of the world as in Europe and flexicurity seminars have taken place in such diverse countries as Argentina, Australia, China, India and Vietnam. Indeed, it becomes increasingly difficult to count the number of papers and events related to this buzzword. Furthermore and most importantly, flexicurity is nowadays institutionalised in the EU in which a proportion of the budget of structural funds is devoted to it and where this concept has become the overriding guideline for labour market reform. There are remarkably few critical comments. Employers seem to support it. However, both from academia and from the unions, there emerge critical voices. For example, the Swedish labour economist Lars Calmfors criticises the fact that important trade-offs are ‘swept under the carpet’ in an illusion of a win-win situation. He underlines the danger ‘that the practice of trying to subsume a number of different policy approaches under the common heading of flexicurity leads to less clarity regarding the policy options’ (Calmfors, 2007, p.1). Indeed, flexicurity as a concept is vague. It suggests something that is always desirable (achieving a flexible...

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