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How to Improve Social Policy Coordination in the EU

How to Improve Social Policy Coordination in the EU

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How to Improve Social Policy Coordination in the EU

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  1. How to Improve Social Policy Coordination in the EU Jonathan Zeitlin EU Center of Excellence University of Wisconsin-Madison

  2. Plan of the talk • I. Towards a new post-Lisbon architecture for EU policy coordination • A. The new Lisbon cycle, 2008-2011: a flawed compromise • B. A new governance architecture for the post-Lisbon era • II. Strengthening the OMC • A. Joined-up thematic strategies • B. Enhancing mutual learning, participation, & EU financial support

  3. I.A. The new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy, 2008-2011: a flawed compromise • The relaunched Lisbon Strategy, 2005-2008: a new architecture for EU policy coordination • Focus on growth and jobs • Integration of economic and employment guidelines • Bilateral dialogue between Commission and MS on National Reform Programmes, based on national priorities and stakeholder partnerships • ‘Mutually reinforcing dynamic’ between IGs/NRPs and streamlined OMC on Social Protection/Inclusion, based on ‘feeding in/feeding out’

  4. Lisbon II in action: limitations of the new architecture • Erosion of employment policy coordination • Reduced visibility of EES at EU and national levels • Increased unevenness in national reporting and reduction of EU-level monitoring capacity • Limited effectiveness of mutually reinforcing dynamic between IGs/NRPs and OMC/SPSI • Few NRPs include social cohesion objectives • Little reference to OMC/SPSI in NRPs • Little evidence of ‘feeding out’ to social objectives, e.g. through systematic assessment of effects of economic/employment policies on social outcomes

  5. Enhancing national ownership and civil society participation? • A key objective of Lisbon II • Most independent assessments agree that 2005 NRP process did not realize these goals • Big push from Commission for increased national ownership in 2006-2007 NRP implementation process • Creation of new consultative/coordination bodies, upgrading of Lisbon coordinators, wider involvement of national parliaments, social partners, local/regional authorities • But still little involvement of civil society actors (e.g. social NGOs) and low public visibility in most MS • Confirmed by Euréval Evaluation of the Integrated Guideline Package for Growth and Jobs (2008): ‘overall visibility…to the wider public remains very low’

  6. Strengthening Lisbon’s social dimension • 2007 Spring European Council resolved that ‘common social objectives of MS should be better taken into account in the Lisbon Agenda’ • Year-long public debate about how to do this under German and Portuguese Presidencies • Two countervailing positions • Incorporate common social objectives into IGs/NRPs and link OMC/SPSI more closely to Lisbon Strategy • Maintain stability of the IGs and focus on better implementation of national reforms

  7. The new cycle of Integrated Guidelines 2008-2011 • No change to the existing set of Guidelines • Social dimension of Lisbon strengthened by revision of accompanying explanatory text • IGs designed to contribute to social cohesion objectives as well as growth and jobs • Need for strengthened interaction with OMC/SPSI • MS should ensure that economic, employment, & social developments are mutually reinforcing through broad stakeholder partnerships/systematic follow-up • MS encouraged to monitor social impact of reforms

  8. A flawed compromise • Disconnect between old guidelines and new explanatory text will not improve European citizens’ understanding of EU policies nor enhance ownership by national actors • Not conducive to joined-up governance and stakeholder participation needed for innovative social reforms • Remains to be seen how commitment to promote greater synergy between IGs/NRPs & OMC/SPSI will be followed up and monitored • E.g. through guidance to MS on preparation of NRPs and development of indicators for ‘feeding in/feeding out’ • Leaves the EU with multiple, overlapping, potentially inconsistent ‘mega strategies’ • Sustainable Development, Lisbon, OMCs

  9. B. A new governance architecture for the post-Lisbon era • EU needs a new overarching strategy for the post-Lisbon era based on four equal, mutually reinforcing pillars • Economic growth • Full employment • Social cohesion • Environmental sustainability

  10. A cockpit, not a Christmas tree • Each pillar should have its own objectives, guidelines, targets, indicators, national strategies, peer review, and evaluation process • Incorporating these common sectoral objectives and indicators into the EU’s overarching strategy is not like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree, but rather like equipping a cockpit with the full set of instruments needed to avoid flying blind

  11. Reconceiving the IGs and NRPs • In order to avoid overload, IGs and NRPs should be reconceived as twin apexes of a synthetic policy coordination process built up from sectoral OMCs for each pillar • Sites where conflicting priorities can be reconciled, not unified/centralized replacements for sectoral coordination processes themselves • Each sectoral policy coordination process should explicitly incorporate indicators for monitoring mutual interactions between them (feeding in/feeding out)

  12. Maximizing opportunities for mutual learning • To maximize opportunities for mutual learning, MS should report consistently on progress towards each objective/guideline, using common European indicators as far as possible • Common indicators should be outcome-oriented, responsive to policy interventions, subject to clear/ accepted normative interpretation, timely, & revisable • Indicators should be sufficiently comparable and disaggregable to serve as diagnostic tools for improvement/self-correction by national/local actors, rather than as soft sanctions/shaming devices to ensure MS compliance with European targets • Limitations of existing Lisbon Assessment Framework

  13. II. Strengthening the OMC • Architectural reconstruction of EU policy coordination must now await the next cycle of Integrated Guidelines beginning in 2011 • But the EU can meanwhile improve social policy coordination and prepare the ground for deeper reforms under the new Social Agenda through ongoing proposals to strengthen the OMC via • Joined-up thematic strategies • Enhancing mutual learning, stakeholder participation, & EU financial support

  14. Joined-up thematic strategies • One promising approach to strengthening both the OMC and the mutually reinforcing dynamic between the EU’s social, economic, and employment objectives is the development of joined-up strategies on key cross-cutting themes • Flexicurity • Active inclusion • Child poverty & well-being/investing in youth • Active ageing • Gender equality/reconciling work & family

  15. Deepening horizontal and vertical policy coordination • Adoption of common European principles • Responding to shared challenges and values • Respecting diversity of national institutions and starting points • Ensure horizontal policy coherence and maximize cross-sectoral synergies without creating new processes • Intensive follow-up, monitoring, and evaluation • Development of joint indicators and assessment frameworks • Thematic peer reviews and comparison of good/bad practices • Full involvement of all relevant actors • Network of local observatories (active inclusion) • Possible use of EU recommendations (common and/or country-specific)

  16. Enhancing mutual learning • Build on ongoing developments within SPC & EMCO • Focus peer review/mutual surveillance on key themes, fostering more open policy debate • More context and process-oriented approach to peer review of both good and bad practices • Stronger analytical framework for understanding relationship between policies and outcomes • More extensive use of independent experts • Better linkages between EU and national debates through improved dissemination, wider stakeholder participation, and development of transnational ‘learning networks’

  17. Expanding stakeholder participation • Open up OMC processes to active participation by civil society and sub-national actors • Revive/reinvigorate NAPs for employment & inclusion • Promote local and regional action plans • Mainstream OMC processes into national policymaking and evaluate the results • Develop indicators of participatory governance • Timely involvement in all phases of the policy cycle (agenda setting, policy formulation, monitoring, evaluation) • Two-way dialogue rather than one-way consultation • Benchmark national performance & compare practices

  18. Reinforcing linkages to EU financial support • Empirical research on OMC processes in employment and social inclusion shows that their national influence is greatly reinforced by linkages to EU financial support • Structural and cohesion funds should be explicitly targeted towards the EU’s social as well as economic & employment objectives, with stronger monitoring/evaluation of MS spending plans and performance • Use PROGRESS to support mutual learning, innovative projects, & transnational networks