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 12: Employment and the Social Dimension of Europe: What Constitutive Conventions of the Market?

Robert Salais


Robert Salais INTRODUCTION The current global crisis has arisen from the belief in the virtues of the market as a system. Since the 1980s Europe has increasingly succumbed to this belief, either in trying to dogmatically construct the perfect market, or in allowing market participants to develop their own rules without effective oversight. Since 2000 this second register has taken hold, with the flourishing of so-called governance activities. Instead of bringing durable benefits as promised, the system as a whole has led to chaos in markets, to unemployment, to social problems and the weakening of the European project. Indeed, we are entering a new world which threatens the future of employment in Europe. The question of employment cannot be addressed independently of the social dimension of the economy, hence implicating the conventions constitutive of the market. The employment challenge is simple. Europe must change both its market conventions and its political method. Briefly reviewing the history of market conventions in Europe, this chapter intends to show to what extent the capability approach and its combination with the transitional labour market approach could provide a suitable foundation for such a change. Since the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the European political project has been characterised by an irreducible specificity, namely that to be legitimate and politically acceptable the justification for increased or wider European social intervention must be based on economic arguments invoking economic efficiency and competition. This holds true today as it has in the past and...

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