European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration

European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration

European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration

European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration

Synopsis

"European Social Policy brings together a distinguished group of specialists who examine the development and current status of European social policies in areas such as social security, industrial relations, regional development, gender equity, agriculture, and immigration. The authors emphasize the distinctive dynamic that arises from a multitiered system in which individual member states share policymaking responsibilities with central authorities. European social policy, emerging in conjunction with the construction of the common market, is the result of a pluralistic process in which member states, social actors, and European institutions, such as the Commission and the European Court of Justice, all vie for influence. According to the authors, the highly fragmented structure of European social policy typifies policymaking in the new European polity, where policy develops without being under the firm control of any particular political group. The book also provides a comparison of social policymaking in the EU with that in Canada and the United States, two other multitiered, or federal, systems." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This collaborative project grew out of conversations among researchers interested in the development of public policies in European countries. These discussions revealed a growing sentiment that the remarkable process of European integration was making it increasingly difficult to comprehend the dynamics of public policy without considering actions taken at both the national and the supranational levels. The traditional frameworks of comparative public policy seemed ill equipped for this investigation. So, too, did most discussions among international relations scholars, which cast European integration as a process of carefully constrained diplomatic bargains among essentially sovereign nation-states. Such a perspective had difficulty accounting for the major transformations in policymaking that are occurring in areas somewhat removed from the European Community's central goal of creating a common market.

Drawing on insights from research on federalism, but remaining attuned to the quite distinctive historical process that has led to European integration, our research stresses the extent to which member states now find themselves embedded in a new kind of polity. We emphasize the distinctive dynamics of integrating social policy in a multitiered system. Individual member states share policymaking responsibilities with central authorities, although these central authorities are generally too weak to launch major initiatives on their own. European social policy, emerging in conjunction with the construction of the common market, is the result of a pluralistic process in which member states, social actors, and European institutions such as the Commission and the European Court of Justice all vie for influence. The result is that European social policy has a highly fragmented structure. Policymaking is increasingly prone to gridlock or lowest-common-denominator agreement; initiatives originate from multiple sites of public authority and are poorly coordinated. In the . . .

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