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“When business goes beyond national borders, I believe there is a need for social rights and principles to go beyond these borders too.”162 This is what makes legislation and regulation at European level important: “The Union has to exist for every situation where the citizen‟s interest is better served by acting together than by acting separately... The Commission is convinced that we must act less in order to act better. But on the other hand, … it will not baulk at taking steps whenever it firmly believes that a contribution from the Union is needed if a question of common interest has to be addressed.”163 However, according to the discourse of the Commission, this position is not supported by Britain: “We are all familiar with the UK problem which is relatively easy to understand. It combines a general skepticism about the merit of any action at European level with a very specific allergy to regulation in the social field since in the last 15 years the Conservative Government has been pushing policy which goes in the completely opposite direction.” 164 More generally, similar concerns are expressed in the following way: “There are those of you who believe that we don‟t need any legislation in the social field at European level and that the answer lies even in de-regulation. Others, no doubt 160 Anna Diamantopoulou, Growth, Employment and Enlargement; the Challenges for Europe, SPEECH/01/514, 08.11.2001, p.
5.5.2. The construction of an internal EU border through the process of Eastern Enlargement The second main way in which the discourse of the European Commission on social policy has contributed to the construction of an internal border in the EU is the manner in which the process of Eastern Enlargement of the EU was conducted. As I have shown in the section on de-bordering above, the Commission has articulated a position that the applicant states should become a part of the social dimension and not only of the economic and monetary union and that a belonging to the ESM is not a negotiable issue.
This implies an equivocal disappearance of the internal borders on social policy issues between “old” and “new” member states through the inclusion of the latter into the ESM.
The extent to which this position was successfully promoted in practice during the accession process, however, is much more problematic, which makes possible the argument 165 Padraig Flynn, Social Action Programme 1995-1997, SPEECH/95/81, 28.04.1995, p. 2 166 This generalisation is based on Wilhelmus Antonius Arts, John Gelissen, „Three Worlds of Welfare capitalism or More? A State-of-the-Art Report‟, Journal of European Social Policy, 12: 2 (2002), pp. 137-158 221 that rather than contributing to the abolition of internal borders, the discourse of the Commission on Enlargement has contributed to the establishment of an internal EU border between “old” and “new” member states on social policy issues. This is a result of one major flaw of the Enlargement process – the fact that its design allowed social issues by and large to be attributed secondary importance. The foundations of this situation were laid down in Copenhagen in 1993. According to the Presidency Conclusions of this summit, the former Communist countries that wish to join the EU have to satisfy only economic and political conditions and should adhere to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.167 This clearly leaves out considerations about the inclusion of the candidate countries into the ESM. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the discourse of the European Commission, following this general trend, has also been silent on social issues, thus failing “to drive through a European vision of social policy …” 168. Thus, the design of the Enlargement process left out significant engagement with social policy issues, which meant that the Commission discourse despite the rhetorical claim about its importance did not attach to it significant importance in some of its articulations.
The following examples illustrate these points. According to a memorandum of the European Commission, in the second half of the 1990s, the PHARE program was reoriented to focus only on preparing the participating countries for EU membership. From 1998 around 30 per cent of the assistance was directed towards institution building: “which includes the strengthening of democratic institutions, public administration to ensure public services are ready to apply the acquis … Initially this support will focus on priority areas such as finance, agriculture, environment, justice and home affairs.” 169 Thus, social policy issues are obviously left out of the main focus of the EU‟s efforts. Furthermore, even when attempts were made in this direction, the overall result could not be evaluated as satisfactory in the area of social issues. This was a result of the fact that as the assessment
of the Interim Report of the Commission on the effects of the program concludes there is:
167 See the Presidency Conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council, June 1993, available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/enlargement/ec/pdf/cop_en.pdf, accessed on 29.08.2009 168 Bob Deacon, „East European Welfare States: the Impact of the Policies of Globalization‟, Journal of European Social Policy, 10: 2 (2000), pp. 146-161, p. 159 169 European Commission, EU Enlargement and Accession Partnerships, MEMO/98/21, 27.03.1998, pp. 2-3 222 “a tendency for the Commission to contract out expertise in the transition process … thereby losing grip on the substance and impact of the programmes.” 170 Despite the fact that this clearly signals a danger for the successful inclusion of the “new” member states into the ESM, this is not effectively accounted for and acted upon. This is evident in the fact that according to the former Commissioner responsible for the Enlargement, Gűnter Verheugen: “The candidate countries have to make really determined efforts to bring in reforms, primarily administrative and judicial reform but also structural reform of their economy. I would also draw particular attention to the importance the Commission attaches to the position of the Roma in a number of candidate countries”, 171 thus again sticking to the main areas mapped out by the Copenhagen criteria and not mentioning anything about the social aspects of the process and the challenges it is facing.
Overall, these examples clearly indicate that despite the claim of some Commission documents that social policy is as important as the economic and political aspects of the Enlargement process, within the Commission discourse there is also a significant silence on the matter. This has arguably resulted in attaching less importance to this aspect of the accession, which means that there was less pressure exercised on the candidate countries to comply with the main features of the ESM. Such a position can be further illustrated with the efforts undertaken by the EU in the field of border controls in order to ensure the “new” member states‟ inclusion in Schengen. In this policy area, in distinction to the lack of real pressure on social policy issues, there have been a lot of efforts ranging from exchange of know how and actual practices to financial assistance. 172
The culmination of these efforts, in a way, is the SIS II, which is described as:
“indispensable so that the new Member States can connect to the system and the Schengen 170 European Commission, The Phare Programme: an Interim Evaluation, 1997, p. 58 171 Gűnter Verheugen, The Enlargement Process after Nice, SPEECH/01/7, 16.01.2001, p. 4 172 Some of the academic studies that have examined different aspects of the Eastern borders prior to the 2004-2007 Enlargements and the development of border controls cooperation between the EU-15 and the now “new” member states are Eberhard Bort, „Illegal Immigration and Cross-Border Crime: Challenges at the Eastern Frontier of the European Union‟ in Ian Zielonka (ed.), Europe Unbound – Enlarging and Reshaping the Boundaries of the European Union (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 191-212; Didier Bigo, „Border Regimes, Police Cooperation and Security in an Enlarged European Union‟ in Ian Zielonka (ed.), Europe Unbound – Enlarging and Reshaping the Boundaries of the European Union (London: Routledge, 2002), pp.
213-239; Heather Grabbe, „The Sharp Edges of Europe: Extending Schengen Eastwards‟, International Affairs, 76: 3 (2000), pp. 519-536 223 area without internal border control can be extended, after a positive Schengen evaluation, to the territory of these Member States.”173 Thus, in border controls much more clear criteria and benchmarks were developed and the aim has clearly been a formal inclusion into the EU space.
The lack of such focused efforts and formal ways of inclusion into the ESM, however, has created conditions for excluding the “new” EU members from it altogether, which will unequivocally create an internal border in the EU. Such a tendency has already been clearly manifested – a report on the reform of the European Social Models, commissioned by the European Commission refers to only the social models of the “old” member states.174 What is remarkable is the fact that it was prepared in 2005, long after the decision to enlarge (and therefore include the “new” member states into the ESM) was taken. This is a clear manifestation of uncertainty on whether the “new” member states are a full-fledged part of the ESM.175 Therefore, arguably the articulations in the Commission social policy discourse have contributed to a construction of an internal EU border. They have not managed to promote the necessary measures that can ensure the achievement in practice of the goal of including the “new” member states into the ESM. Instead, they have reproduced the silence established with the Copenhagen criteria, which facilitates the creation of an internal division in the EU.
This danger of excluding the former Communist countries from the ESM even after their full membership in the EU as a result of the ineffective arrangement of social policy issues during the Enlargement process becomes even bigger when one considers the fact that as former Communist countries, the majority of the “new” member states have very different experiences in comparison to the rest of the EU. This further increases the necessity of the existence of a minimum degree of unity at least at the level of basic 173 European Commission, Schengen: from SIS to SIS II, MEMO/05/188, p. 1. See also European Commission, The Hague Programme: Ten Priorities for the Next Five Years. The Partnership for European Renewal in the Field of Freedom, Security and Justice, COM (2005) 184 final, 10.05.2005, p. 5 174 The report was later publish as a journal article: Andre Sapir, „Globalization and the Reform of European Social Models‟, Journal of Common Market Studies, 44: 2 (2006), pp. 369-390 175 A recent study that engages with this issue is Susanne Fuchs, Claus Offe, „Welfare State Formation in the Enlarged European Union: Patterns of Reform in Postcommunist States‟ in Chris Rumford (ed.), The Sage Handbook of European Studies (London: Sage, 2009), pp. 420-441. Although the authors argue that the postcommunist states that joined the EU in 2004 have all “implemented Bismarkian type of social insurance system” (p. 437), they admit that this is a “controversial issue” (p. 421).
224 principles. The lack of such unity will clearly show inconsistency with the Commission claims that despite the diversity in the social arrangements in the member states, there is overarching commonality of values. As I demonstrated in the section on de-bordering this argument constitutes the bulk of the Commission discourse on the existence of a uniquely European way of social organisation.