The Influence of the EU on the Evolution of National Employment Models

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Publication Date 2008
ISBN 978-92-9014-864-7
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There is heated debate in European countries regarding how the need for flexibility in the functioning of labour markets can be combined with that for workers' security — the so-called 'flexicurity' approach. The premise behind this debate is that workers' mobility, employmentoriented
social protection and stiff product-market competition are required in order to realise the potential gains arising from globalisation and structural change. But, as part of the flexicurity approach, such policies need to be balanced with social goals such as job protection, income security and welfare benefits.

This paper provides examples of how the EU has embraced the flexicurity approach, including through its European Employment Strategy. At the same time, the authors claim that, in practice, the majority of EU countries have focused primarily on the flexibility dimensions. In a limited number of cases, an attempt has been made to enhance security for those employed in flexible jobs.

More generally, a key message from the paper is that promoting social policy goals, including social protection and job quality, can be a major productive factor. In particular, greater policy focus on job quality may enhance firms’ responsiveness to economic shocks and also reduce pressures on the welfare and fiscal systems. Social policy can also strengthen social cohesion — thereby reinforcing support for pro-growth reforms — while also promoting
opportunities to participate in the labour market and improve career prospects. The paper thus provides examples of how the ILO decent work agenda can contribute to economic

In short, drawing on a rich analysis of country experiences, the authors provide a refreshing critical eye regarding the relevance of the European Employment Strategy and put forward a new approach to employment policy.

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