The Sustainability of the European Social Model
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The Sustainability of the European Social Model

EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe

Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

This book argues that the European Social Model can only be sustained in the current economic crisis if social and employment policies are adequately recognised as integral parts of European economic policy-making. The contributing authors investigate this hypothesis through comparative evaluations of interactions of EU economic governance with national systems of social protection. In particular they focus on two key policy areas – social services of general interest and the regulation of working time – as well as covering areas such as social inclusion, active ageing policies and job quality. By combining sociological approaches with legal analyses, the book provides unique insights and evaluation of EU methods of governance.
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Chapter 13: The impact of EU regulation on social services of general interest in the United Kingdom

Aristea Koukiadaki


The level of autonomy afforded to Member States to define certain services as 'services of general interest' and to shelter them from the market so as to promote social objectives has become in recent years a highly sensitive topic among EU and national policy actors and organisations. The increased activity in this area of the European Commission and the general absence of guidance on the conditions necessary to render such services of general interest by the European Court of Justice have resulted in uncertainty concerning the interaction of EU law with public services in the EU Member States. By focusing on the EU regulation on social services of general interest, the chapter evaluates how the nature and provision of such services in the UK have been susceptible to changes as a result of the Services Directives, EU public procurement and competition law. The implementation of privatisation plans in the UK well before any EU initiatives in this area meant that such services have been open to market forces well before other Member States. However, this has not led to the absence of concerns regarding the precise impact of EU law in this area. Recent policy initiatives by the Coalition government may expand further the degree of marketisation and increase the scope for interaction between EU and national-level regulation.

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