Multilevel Governance and Social Policy: Observations from the Perspective of Comparative Federalism
Actes des Ateliers 2008 sur la Gouvernance à niveaux multiples au sein de l’Union européenne, Comité des Régions, 2009, 225-240
15 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2016 Last revised: 8 Aug 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2009
Social protection faces a number of specific hurdles and challenges in complex polities, be they multilayered or plurinational, or both. The intersection between social policy-making and institutional design raises issues of effective management, policy preferences, economies of scale and tension between “recognition” and “redistribution”. In this article, the author explores how comparative federalism can shed some light on processes of social protection in the context of European multilevel governance and how public actors in a multi-layered and interdependent set-up can contribute to an inclusive social project. She considers three dimensions of the potential dialogue between social protection in federal contexts and in the EU. First, she outlines why, given the wide diversity between MLG systems, it is illusory to go beyond an embryonic response to the intersection between multi-layered and multinational regimes on the one hand and social policy on the other. She then explains three functions (redistribution, bureaucratic and political legitimation, identity politics) played by social protection in federal regimes, particularly in multinational federations and quasi-federations. Finally, she surveys instruments used by federal partners in the design of social policies. The author concludes by noting that issues related to the intersection of social protection and institutional design raised in multinational federations resonate in the EU, regardless of the nature of the latter.
Keywords: social policy, institutional design, multilevel governance, comparative federalism, European Union, social protection
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