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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 13: The European Employment Strategy, Social Economy and Employment Policy: Coordination Failure and Neglect in the Face of Fragmentation and Complexity

Jeremy Kendall and Taco Brandsen


Jeremy Kendall and Taco Brandsen 13.1 Introduction In the previous chapter we examined how the early experiences of applying the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) to the problem of social exclusion unfolded, primarily from the perspective of national-level third sector policy actors. We can plausibly claim to have witnessed a limited and uneven, but non-trivial, impact in terms of level of awareness of the salience of non-governmental organizations’ (NGO’s) contributions, even if this has tended not to result in dramatic policy change. Against this backdrop, the current chapter tries to develop a more consciously comparative perspective by looking at a further area where the third sector and the OMC potentially connected: the ‘opportunities’ supposedly made available to the third sector qua ‘social economy’ and ‘civil society’ in the case of the European Employment Strategy (EES): the area where the OMC was first developed. As an analytic concept, the third sector as ‘social economy’ contributing to economic development has considerable interest and value (Moulaert and Ailenei, 2005). It is now widely recognized that the third sector (using a range of definitions) in Europe mobilizes a significant paid workforce (cf. Salamon et al., 2003; Leete, 2006; CIRIEC International, 2008). In the OMC context, in which the emphasis has been on ‘all hands on deck’, including experimentation with whatever options seem potentially to assist in tackling Europe’s persistently high overall levels of unemployment (Rhodes, 2003), there was therefore a prima facie case for taking the sector seriously in employment policy. But there have...

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