Taking away barriers to free movement and to competition are main objectives of the European Union (EU). Additionally, the EU has the objective to promote social aims, including the protection against poverty and social exclusion. For this latter purpose, several EU policy instruments exist to counter the internal market’s negative effects. Still, these instruments’ scope is limited, because the EU member states have retained important powers to organise their labour market and their welfare system. The legal and social-economic circumstances in which member states do so, are quite different. In this course, we examine the (relationship between) welfare states and labour markets within this EU context, concentrating on its economic, legal, governance and political aspects.
This course will examine these topics from three angles. First, you will adopt a governance and political science approach to describe the different welfare states regimes in the EU. More particularly, you will analyze the differences and similarities between the different types of welfare state regimes in the EU: the continental regime as typified by for instance Germany; the liberal regime as characterized by the now former EU member state the United Kingdom; the social democratic regime as characterized by for example Sweden; and the Eastern European welfare regime as found in for instance Poland. You will also examine the changes in welfare state arrangements and labour markets over the last decades and what explains these changes.
Next, you will turn to economic theories on the relation between labour markets and welfare state arrangements. Among other things, welfare states have to absorb labour market failures, like unemployment or work accidents. While labour and unemployment systems have to absorb the unemployed from the labour market, they can also cause additional unemployment by creating labour market rigidities like dismissal protection law and employment traps.
The third and final angle is to look at the relevant legal instruments of European governance in the labour market. Questions that will be discussed are among others: Does social legal integration keeps pace with economic legal integration? Is there a common European labour market and, if so, also a rising European welfare state? What are the objectives and competences of the Union in this respect? What does free movement of workers and persons in the European labour market mean for solidarity and access to national welfare state regimes?
In using these three angles we discuss the institutional characteristics of the relationship between welfare state regimes and the (internal) market, and address the different levels (national, EU) and the different actors involved. We pay special attention to the repertoires of intervention/action of different actors - from the EU and national governments to enterprises and NGO's - to deal with tensions on the labour market, and to the social effects that come from market integration, labour migration and demographic changes.
This course will consist of lectures and of working groups. In the latter, you will take the lead to discuss the assigned readings.
In the final paper you will analyze, together with a fellow student, the characteristics and the causes of a problem in the labour market of the EU or (one of) its member states. You will analyze the role, functions and repertoire of the most important actors involved, formulate a motivated direction of change and a policy strategy for the realization of this new situation. In the mark you will get for the paper, the text counts for 90% and the oral presentation of your analysis for 10%.