Flexicurity: an answer or a question?

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Series Details No.6, November 2007
Publication Date November 2007
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Lately, the concept of flexicurity has been enthusiastically discussed in the European Union. It has
become commonplace to advocate flexicurity policy as the solution to all the economic problems of the EU countries. The European Commission has described it as a welfare state model with four components: flexible and reliable contractual arrangements, comprehensive lifelong learning strategies, effective active labour market policies and modern social security systems. However, although
such policies may seem very desirable, you could also argue that the widespread use of such a vague
concept as flexicurity is potentially dangerous. It is possible to identify at least four potential problems:
a tendency to mix up instruments and objectives, a tendency to pretend that all good things can be achieved simultaneously without the need to analyse difficult trade-offs, the view that social dialogue and consensus are always a desirable means to achieve a well functioning labour market, and the view that it is desirable to adopt common principles of flexicurity in the EU. The main
danger is that the practice of trying to subsume a number of different policy approaches under the common heading of flexicurity leads to less clarity regarding the policy options available

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