Europeanization is an elusive concept because of the variety of meanings it refers to. Scholars such as Featherstone (2003, 6-12) often distinguish several usages according to various outcomes of European change, for instance the emergence of new forms of governance or the process of national adaptation in terms of polity and policies. But if they agree more or less on the faces of Europeanization, its definition remains to large extent a matter of contention and depends on the aspect of Europe the scholars seek to emphasize and analyze.
Since the beginning of the 50's, Europe can be seen as an historical process of institution building and policy making that has continuously produced new patterns of interactions between the different actors and structures. As pointed out in the literature (Harmsen 2000; Risse, Cowles and Caporasso 2001; Featherstone 2003; Radaelli 2003) EU membership and its obligations may result in institutional and policy domestic adaptations in specific areas, that is to say an Europeanization process. Here the study wants to focus on the question of a European Social Model developed by Wincott (2003). Whereas Europe used to focus mainly on economic arrangements, policies and regulation frames, the past twenty years have increasingly seen the emergence of social expectations. In reaction to the neo-liberalism wave at the beginning of the 80's that shaped, if not influenced, national policies and European construction, the idea of reinforcing the social dimension of Europe started to gain a ready audience, witness the stand of J.Delors, president of the EU commission from 1985 to 1995 (Wincott 2003, 287). Hence the guiding question will be: How does the idea of a European Social Model have influenced the institutions and policies of the State members? This implies to explore, as an Europeanization process, the emergence of a European pattern of economic and social regulation (Wincott 2003, 281) and the direction of change the latter is following over time.
[...] This implies to explore, as an Europeanization process, the emergence of a European “pattern of economic and social regulation” (Wincott 2003, 281) and the direction of change the latter is following over time. This paper is developed in four sections, each of them being divided in two subsections: the first section discuss the different definitions of Europeanization available in the literature in the light of the European Social model building, focusing specifically on one and highlighting its importance and its weaknesses; the second section explores the different mechanisms at work in this specific Europeanization process and the centrality of the concept of “goodness of the third section tries to broader the previous EU centric and top-down view by questioning the centrality of power relations within the competition of different social models ; and lastly, the fourth section challenges the previous analysis and explores whether we can really talk about an Europeanization process regarding the social dimension of Europe and whether there is a convergence or a divergence in terms of institutions and policies. [...]
[...] The divergences of Europeanization Social harmonization is part of the basic European political project, but basically, the E.U is still not institutionally strong enough to pursue such a goal. The creation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights signed at Nice in 2000 but not incorporated in the treaty can be seen an important step but the EU usually only encourages changes and leave the issue of diversity open» (Radaelli 2003; 33). The debate actually focuses more on whether Europeanization results in convergence or divergence in terms of institutional and policy social adjustments, which depends on different mediating factors (Risse, Cowles and Caporasso 2001, the existence of formal and informal veto points (referendums), the character of formal institutions (resources and capacity), the political and organizational structure (integrated/fragmented) are all determining the capacity of the member states to respond. [...]
[...] ‘Conceptualizing the Domestic Impact of Europe' in Featherstone and Claudio Radaelli, eds. The Politics of Europeanization. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp 57-80 Falkner Gerda (2003). EU's social dimension' in Michelle Cini, eds. European Union Politics. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp 264-277. Featherstone (2003). ‘Introduction: In the Name of Europe' in Featherstone and Claudio Radaelli, eds. The Politics of Europeanization. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 1-20. Harmsen, Robert (2000). 'Europeanization and governance: a new institutionalist perspective' in Yearbook of European Studies 14, pp. [...]
[...] Actually if it is true that the rhetoric of a common European Model declined over time because of the economic context and the on-going liberalization of national economies, the position of Majone has to be downplayed. The general discourse changed but an alternative project, in the tradition of centre-left, social-Democrat and social-Christian, tried recently to combine in a different way economic competition and solidarity (Eric Hobsbawn quoted by Wincott 2003, 288). The project of European treaty was seen in this respect by the European elites as a means of improving the economic and political working. [...]
[...] How the idea of a European Social Model been advocated by the EU and applied to Member States? Knill and Lehmkuhl (2002 quoted by Featherstone 2003, 14) distinguish three distinct levels of European strategy to implement these adaptations: «positive integration» (regulation and decision), «negative integration» (creation of opportunity structures that alter the distribution of resources and power such as a single and free market), «framing integration» (minimalist directives that are supposed to influence beliefs and expectations in order to prepare future changes). [...]
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