EU Social Policy and the Governance Architecture of Europe 2020
Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2012
34 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 19, 2012
As the successor to the decade-long Lisbon agenda, ‘Europe 2020’ is the European Union’s (EU) ten-year strategy for ‘smart,’ ‘sustainable’ and ‘inclusive’ growth. This essay analyses the ‘governance architecture’ of this new agenda, and more particularly, its social dimension. Insofar as Europe 2020 has a social dimension it is located within a suite of thematic ‘flagship initiatives,’ as well as within a co-ordination framework that, while building upon the Lisbon agenda’s governance architecture, now forms part of the ‘European Semester’ framework. Whereas the governance toolkit of the flagship initiatives continues a long tradition of the deployment of EU funds and non-legislative instruments towards the EU’s social goals, the Europe 2020 agenda exhibits a more ambiguous attitude towards policy co-ordination as a ‘new’ form of EU social governance. If the flagship initiatives offer a limited capacity to bring coherence and focus to the agenda’s social dimension, then the risk is also that political energy will be concentrated on policy co-ordination as a means of strengthening EU economic governance rather than as a vehicle for articulating a progressive social policy vision.
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By Iain Begg