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Handbook on Third Sector Policy in Europe

Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society

Edited by Jeremy Kendall

While scholarship on the social, economic and political contributions of organisations existing between the market and the state has proliferated in recent years, no sustained attention has previously been paid to how such organisations are collectively treated by, and respond to, public policy. The expert contributors examine the policy environment for, and evolving policy treatment of, the third sector in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom from a comparative perspective. They also look at how the third sector relates to multi-level European policy processes, including the Open Method of Co-ordination, the Community Method, nationally-led ‘partnership’ approaches within an overall EU framework and the United Nations International Year of Volunteering; an initiative implemented in the EU but originating externally.
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Chapter 12: National Action Plans on Social Inclusion: Opportunities for the Third Sector?

Taco Brandsen, Emmanuele Pavolini, Costanzo Ranci, Birgit Sittermann and Annette Zimmer


Taco Brandsen, Emmanuele Pavolini, Costanzo Ranci, Birgit Sittermann and Annette Zimmer 12.1 Introduction The European Union’s influence on its member states is currently the topic of frequent discussion, under the label of Europeanization. One way to examine Europeanization is to study different ways in which the EU passes down policy concepts and requirements (cf. Knill and Lehmkuhl, 2002). Such pressure from the European Union may lead to a redistribution of influence and resources at the national level. By implication, this presents a window of opportunity for some actors, while others may lose their prominent position (Risse et al., 2001; Börzel, 2003). This chapter examines whether the National Action Plans on Social Inclusion (NAPincl or NAPs) in the early years of this decade presented such opportunities for the third sector. Did the EU actually change the national position of the third sector within the political system through this approach? And did the third sector’s involvement have repercussions for the third sector itself, by influencing the connections between different organizations? In the next section, we will start with a brief description of the empirical object of the chapter, the NAPincl on Social Inclusion and the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). Section 12.3 discusses our theoretical approach and methodology. Section 12.4, the main part of this chapter, will present the evidence we found at the national level. In Section 12.5, we will try to explain the results with reference to the concept of ‘goodnessof-fit’: how do EU guidelines for setting up the...

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