Slowing down Social Europe? The role of coalitions and decision-making arenas – University of Copenhagen

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16 May 2012

Slowing down Social Europe? The role of coalitions and decision-making arenas

Report 4 - the posting of workers issue

Research paper by Jens Arnholtz (May 2012)

The 'Slowing down Social Europe?' project, which theoretical and methodological framework is described in details in report 1, aims to explore whether the strengthening of the regulation-sceptical actors has affected the scope and content of regulation as well as the relative weight between different forms of regulation. The project also analyses the role that coalitions between different actors has played.

This report analyses the decision-making processes at EU level with regard to the posting of workers area. Three case studies focus on Services Directive, Temporary Agency Workers Directive and the political response to Laval-quartet. The three cases point in different directions. The Temporary Agency Workers Directive shows that pro regulation actors are still able to promote EU-regulation that strengthens vulnerable workers, even if it is somewhat weaker than the social regulation adopted in the past. The Services Directive shows that pro regulation actors may also be successful in opposing and modifying regulation that they feel will be harmful to workers protection. But the Laval-quartet indicates that pro regulators have a very difficult time when trying to mobilize political responses to the challenges created by EU enlargement and the European Court of Justice. Therefore, the overall conclusion is that Social Europe has indeed been slowing down with regard to the Posting of Workers issue. Rather than workers protection, the removal of barriers and the increasing integration of the market for services are high on the political agenda.

With regard to coalition formation, the report indicates that some actors continuously position themself as either pro regulation or regulation sceptics. However, other actors change position, either as a consequence of specific institutional or political interests, or as a consequence of active mobilization during the decision making process. For this reason, the report highlights the mobilization of actors and articulation of lines of conflict as important elements in the coalition formation process. The case study on the Temporary Agency Work Directive shows that articulation and mobilization may provide the basis for promoting the Social Europe even when pro regulators are weakened.

Download the research paper (pdf)