The analysis of how and why European welfare states change is no longer limited to explanations that relate to the domestic politics of social policy reform. Rather, a growing body of literature suggests that transnational influences, usually conceived as international actors and their policy ideas, interact with domestic policy processes to produce such reform. In this paper, we seek to contribute to the debate on how the two levels interact by focusing on how reform-minded domestic actors use the EU level social policy to achieve domestic reform. Our main argument is that domestic key policy-makers (ministers), faced with problems that threaten the viability of countries’ social policy programmes, use the EU-level social policy as a legitimizing device to generate and/or eventually adopt reforms that are politically contested at home. In other words, we hypothesize that policy-makers make strategic use of EU-level policies in order to bring about controversial change in welfare state policies. In order to evaluate this claim empirically, we conduct a comparative case study of activation-related reforms in the German and Dutch unemployment insurance schemes that took place after the launch of the European Employment Strategy (EES). Our analysis is based on original interview data gained with German and Dutch politicians and civil servants as well as secondary analyses. By identifying domestic actors as a crucial nexus between domestic and EU-level policies, we contribute to the theorizing on how transnational policy matters in national contexts.
|Number of pages||27|
|Publication status||Published - 17 Sept 2009|
|Event||7th Annual ESPAnet Conference 2009: The future of the welfare state: Paths of social policy innovation between constraints and opportunities - Urbino, Italy|
Duration: 17 Sept 2009 → 19 Sept 2009
|Conference||7th Annual ESPAnet Conference 2009: The future of the welfare state|
|Period||17/09/09 → 19/09/09|