Transforming European Employment Policy
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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.
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Chapter 3: Transitional Labour Markets and Flexicurity: Managing Social Risks Over the Life Course

Günther Schmid


Günther Schmid DOES A EUROPEAN FLEXICURITY CONSENSUS EMERGE? When the idea of balancing flexibility and security was introduced by the first Kok Report (Kok et al., 2004) into the employment policy debate at the end of 2003, ‘flexicurity’ was still considered as an oxymoron, which means something that is a contradiction in itself.1 Only a few years later, in its 2006 Employment Report, the European Commission appealed to the strategy of flexicurity in the following way: A consensus is … emerging … that countries should adopt institutional configurations in the labour market that better combine the requirements of flexibility and security – in other words ‘flexicurity’. This implies that, in an environment where workers experience more frequent transitions between employment and non-employment, and between different kinds of employment, policies need to put in place the right conditions for individuals to successfully manage these transitions, thereby ensuring sustainable integration and progress of individuals in the labour market. (European Commission, 2006, p. 111) Related to the ‘right conditions’, the Commission submitted a Green Paper in November 2006 asking member states and social partners to take a position on 14 questions on modernising labour law. This process was supported by a task force on flexicurity which delivered its report in 2007. On the basis of this report, the Commission announced four components of flexicurity in July 2007: (1) flexible and reliable contractual arrangements, (2) comprehensive lifelong learning strategies, (3) effective active labour market policies, and (4) sustainable social protection systems. After a lengthy debate, the...

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