Ideas, Actors and Impact
Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen
Chapter 6: EU and OECD Advice and Changes in German Family Policy: Can Reforms be Attributed to Participation in Learning Processes?
Tord Skogedal Lindén INTRODUCTION How has German family policy changed recently, and can reforms be attributed to ideational influence of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through learning processes initiated by these organizations? Based on official documents and interviews with key policy actors at national and international level, I ask whether international organizations (IOs) may serve a mediator function providing the knowledge leading to policy reforms. In this chapter I put forward three hypotheses to be analysed. First, since the EU has no family policy in the sense of a coherent set of objectives for government activity in this policy area, but rather several policies that affect the situation of families, the influence on Germany is probably not very evident. This holds also for the OECD even though its family policy advice is more coherent. Secondly, since the German parental leave and childcare reforms described below are presented as extension more than retrenchment of the welfare state, the German government will most likely claim credit for these reforms rather than make other bodies responsible for the changes. Furthermore, politicians confronted with an unsuccessful policy like the former German parental leave scheme, will search for alternatives in politically close environments (Rose 1991). German Christian Democrats will thus consult conservative sources. In social terms, the EU and the OECD are considered restrictive and rather conservative in giving the economy priority over social policy and not intervening much in family affairs. My third hypothesis says,...
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