«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
European Commission, Green Paper – European Social Policy – Options for the Union, COM (93) 551 final, 17.11.1993, p. 6; Padraig Flynn, Speech at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament, SPEECH/95/2, 18.01.1995, p. 1 27 Summarised on the basis of European Commission, Green Paper – European Social Policy – Options for the Union, COM (93) 551 final, 17.11.1993, p. 32. For other summaries of the challenges see for example Pagraig Flynn, The Next Phase of European Social Policy – the Implications for Business, SPEECH/94/101, 20.09.1994, p. 1; Padraig Flynn, Green Paper Seminar, SPEECH/94/59, 28.05.1994, p. 2 28 Padraig Flynn, Green Paper Seminar, SPEECH/94/59, 28.05.1994, p. 2 29 European Commission, Growth, Competitiveness, Employment – the Challenges and Ways Forward into the 21st Century – White Paper, COM (93) 700 final, 5.12.1993 30 European Commission, Green Paper – European Social Policy – Options for the Union, COM (93) 551 final, 17.11.1993 31 European Commission, European Social Policy – a Way Forward for the Union. A White Paper, COM (94) 333 final, 27.07.1994 184 and as a result, they triggered a move towards looking at the two policy areas as two parts of a whole.
5.2.2. European Social Model The trend that started in the early 1990s with the White and Green Papers was confirmed in the following years with the adoption of the Medium Term Social Action Programme for the period 1995-1997;41 the Title on Employment in the Treaty of Amsterdam; the European Employment Strategy; the Lisbon Council Conclusions on Employment and Social Policy42 and the subsequent Social Policy Agenda. 43 The line of thinking promoted by these documents is that social policy should be conceived in a broader sense and “not limited only to labour market issues or the defense of the rights of those in employment” (as was the case prior to the early 1990s). Instead: “A real European Social Policy must also look to the problems of the unemployed, the socially excluded, the disabled and other disadvantaged groups in society, and the growing problems faced by our welfare states.”44 Thus, the most important shift and difference in the Commission discourse is that although the issues included in the EMoS are still dealt with, new problems and accents are emerging in the ESM. Therefore, it can be concluded that over time, the shifts in the Commission social policy discourse have led to widening the scope of 39 See for example European Commission, Green Paper on Services of General Interest, COM (2003) 270 final, 21.05.2003, esp. p. 3.
40 Jacques Santer, Speech at the Opening of the European Social Forum, SPEECH/96/75, 28.03.1996, p. 2 41 European Commission, Medium Term Social Action Programme 1995-1997, COM (95) 134 final, 12.04.1995. It was passed with a Resolution of the European Parliament in January 1996, see http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=100166, accessed on 07.05.2009 42 Available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_en.htm, accessed on 22.04.2008 43 European Commission, Social Policy Agenda, COM (2000) 379 final, 28.06.2000. It was approved by the Nice European Council Meeting, see for example http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=157362, accessed on 07.05.2009 44 Both quotations are from Padraig Flynn, Speech at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament, SPEECH/95/2, 18.01.1995, p. 2 186 issues dealt with under the social dimension, thus modifying the meaning of the EU social policy.
In the ESM the main approach for addressing the challenges identified is the adoption and promotion of “active labour market and social policies”. 45 These policies require restructuring of the public spending, so that there are funds available for financing not only the social safety-net (for supporting the unemployed, disabled or elderly) but also a sufficient amount of money for the running of various kinds of programmes (educational, vocational, or re-training). The aim is to enable people out of work to develop their skills and improve their productivity, thus enhancing their competitiveness on the labour market and bettering their chances of finding work. This approach is further reinforced by efforts to restructure the tax systems in the EU, so that it provides increased incentives for various types of people, such as women and the elderly to stay, return or become employed, rather than rely on the social benefits provided. These efforts are complemented by measures aimed at providing good macroeconomic, legal or infrastructural conditions for business.
The overarching idea is that a combination of these courses of action will lead to economic growth, which will be translated into higher levels of employment and increased overall standards of living, thus achieving the strategic goal of the EU becoming: “… the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.” 46 Thus, one of the leading themes of the social policy discourse is that it is a productive factor. 47 In comparison to the ways envisaged for achieving the EC/EU social policy aims there are some important changes evident in the Commission discourse. Although the main ways for fulfilling them in the period until the early 1990s, such as a legislative approach, financial support through the structural funds and negotiations between employers and unions are still promoted, new instruments are emerging as well. These include the adoption of new programmes, mainstreaming and the so-called Open Method of 45 One of the earliest usages of this idea is in the European Commission, Green Paper – European Social Policy – Options for the Union, COM (93) 551 final, 17.11.1993, see for example p. 18 46 The Lisbon European Council (23 and 24 March 2000) Presidency Conclusions, available at http://www.ena.lu/, accessed on 09.05.2009 47 European Commission, Social Policy Agenda, COM (2000) 379, 28.06.2000, p. 5 187 Coordination (OMC).48 The OMC was first applied under the European Employment Strategy and was later used in the Social Policy Agenda in the area of social inclusion. It involves fixing guidelines on Union level and agreeing upon timetables for achieving short, medium, and long-term goals; establishing qualitative and quantitative indicators and benchmarks; translating the European guidelines into national and regional policies;
periodic monitoring, evaluation and peer review organised as a mutual learning process. 49 Commissioner Diamantopoulou characterises the OMC as: “A clear example of subsidiarity in action.”50 However, arguably, it is evidence for the prevailing of intergovernmentalist thinking in the fields of employment and social policies because it does not have any legally binding provisions, and therefore, it does not contribute towards social policy integration in the EU through harmonisation, which would be the aim of the supporters of supranationalism. 51 Therefore, developments in the social field in the period after the earlyto-mid 1990s are better characterised as negative integration, closer to the lowest common denominator, which is promoting a more decentralised and hands-off approach.
However, despite these differences in the Commission social policy discourse, there are also continuations in the Commission articulations, which contain very important bordering configurations, such as the articulation of very similar “Others” or the construction of the social space in the EC/EU as a unified one. In that respect, one of the most striking continuities between the articulations of the EMoS and the ESM is their 48 Enlisted in Anna Diamantopoulou, Presentation of the Social Policy Agenda to the European Parliament, SPEECH/00/324, 21.09.2000, p. 2 and Anna Diamantopoulou, The Social Policy Agenda: Europe at Work for Trade Unions, SPEECH/01/114, 09.03.2001, p. 4.