Socializing the European Semester? Economic Governance and Social Policy Coordination in Europe 2020
51 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2014
This paper analyzes how EU social objectives and policy coordination have been integrated into the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Union’s emerging post-crisis architecture of economic governance. Based on published and unpublished documents as well as interviews with high-level policy makers, the paper argues that since 2011, there has been a progressive ‘socialization’ of the ‘European Semester’ of policy coordination, in terms of an increasing emphasis on social objectives and targets in the EU’s priorities and country-specific recommendations; an intensification of social monitoring, multilateral surveillance, and peer review; and an enhanced role for social and employment actors, especially the Employment and Social Protection Committees. The paper interprets these developments not only as a response by the Commission and other EU institutions to rising social and political discontent among European citizens with the consequences of post-crisis austerity policies, but also as a product of reflexive learning and creative adaptation by social and employment actors to the new institutional conditions of the European Semester: another form of ‘socialization’.
Keywords: European Union, Social Europe, economic governance, social policy, employment policy, Europe 2020, European Semester, policy coordination, Country-Specific Recommendations, Open Method of Coordination, peer review, multilateral surveillance, performance monitoring, policy learning
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