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Coalitions and the decision making process on the common flexicurity principles Mikkel Mailand Employment Relations Research Centre (FAOS) Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen Paper for ASPEN conference 20-21 March, 2009
Lineout • Introduction - research questions and methods • What is a coalition? • Coalitions and the EES until 2006 • Flexicurity - from the first references to the common principles • Discussion and conclusions
1. Introduction – research questions and methods Flexicuirty at the EU-level • Council adoption in December 2007 of a set of ‘common FC principles’ Literature on FC at the EU-level • so far no analyses on how and to what extent the supporters of FC, on the one hand, and the skeptical voices, on the other hand, co-operated and influenced the outcome of the decision-making process. Research questions and methods • 1) to what extent coalitions have influenced the decision-making process of the common principles of flexicuirty • 2) if these coalitions differ from coalitions known from previous decision-making processes on European employment policies • 3) if these coalitions follow expectations from regime theory • starting point a previous study: ‘minimalist’ and ‘regulation’ coalition • data-sources:interviews with key decision-makers and documents • work in progress
2. What is a coalition? Advocacy Coalition Approach by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith • are knitted together by a common belief system • operate within ‘policy subsystems’. There is often more than one coalition within a subsystem • to study a coalition, time perspective of one decade or more • a coalition change due to external changes Due & Madsen (1996) • two or more independent org. with the aim of achieving a specific goal, overcoming weaknesses or controlling actors outside the coalition • coalitions have no strong hierarchical structures or org. resources, have a short time-horizon • stitched together by narrowly defined interests vis-à-vis an ‘enemy’ • a common set of basic values is not necessarily present in a coalition Coalitions in the present analysis • use both these contributions, - the long time, + common belief system
3. Coalitions and the EES until 2006 Two studies of the formation of the EES in the mid-1990s • Johansson (1999): Party of European Socialists’ (PES) working group; Director-General for Empl. (Allan Larson); former TU-officials as prime ministers; socialist governments; the enlargement with SW and FL • van der Riel & van der Meer (2002): ‘advocacy coalition’ for the European empl. policy. Allan Larsen; PES group; COM; EP; SW Studies of EES’ revisions 2002 – 2006 (Mailand 2004; 2006) • ‘minimalist coalition’ - UK, DK, NL, ES, (SW, AU, D) • ‘regulation coalition’- COM, BL, LX, PT, IT, GR, (F) • open question which of the two coalitions can be said to have been most successful in influencing the revisions of the EES in 2003 • the coalitions seem to have played a less explicit role in the 2005 EES revision • the new MS and the new COM have strengthened the positions of minimalist coalition
4. Flexicurity - from the first European references to the common principles The entrance of flexicurity at the EU-level • the concept has been sneaking its way into the employment guidelines • reactions to the COM’s green-paper on labour law in 2006: the sweet icing designed to help you swallow the bitter liberalisation pill The agenda setting phase • Austrian Presidency invited EMCO to set-up of an FC working-group • expert-group that should help clarify the still ill-defined FC concept: ‘flexibility and reliable employment conditions’; ‘comprehensive strategies for LLL’; ‘efficient ALMP’; and ‘modern social-security systems’ • BL, BU, GR, ES, F, IT, CY, LX and HU issued a four page common statement with the title Enhancing Social Europe • the pro-FC countries all found within the minimalist-coalition: DK, UK, NL, AU and – to some extent – SW
4. Flexicurity - from the first European references to the common principles (cont.) Towards the draft principles Reasons that COM succeeded in getting support for a communication: • support from a new country (Austria) • presence of chair of EMCO from the NL, one of the other FC supporters • the change of government in FR in May 2007. Reduced the powers of the regulation coalition June 2007 communication: four components and eight draft common principles • adapted to suit the individual countries’ conditions • reduce the gulf between insiders and outsiders on the LM • support mobility • requires mutual trust and social dialogue • the document presented proposals for four ‘FC pathways’
4. Flexicurity - from the first European references to the common principles (cont.) Response to the communication – summer and autumn 2007 • positive from the employers’ federations and the Northern European member states • the Central and, particularly, Southern European member states and the trade unions remained skeptical • heavy pressure on the European social partners that agreed to a concise compromise on FC The final principles December 2007 - a few differences from the draft • no references to the FC pathways in the final version of the common principles • no references to insiders and outsiders in the labour market • in order to get everyone on board, it had been necessary to give the regulation coalition and other stakeholders some concessions
5. Conclusions First question: to what extent coalitions have influenced? • The coalitions have played an important role in the decision-making process leading up to the adoption of the common FC principles Second question: coalitions differ from known coalitions? • the ‘minimalist’ and the ‘regulation coalition’ can still be found. Changes: • the DG Employment no longer part of the regulation coalition • France is no longer part of the regulation coalition • Spain is now firmly based in the regulation coalition • These changes have seriously weakened the regulation coalition. The inclusion of new countries in the regulation coalition has not been able to counter balance the losses