Project theme 4

The Danish model and its ambiguous relationship to Social Europe

After a number of years of crisis and austerity policies, the EU is now in a crisis of legitimacy. In response to this crisis, the European Commission has attempted to relaunch Social Europe. The European Pillar of Social Rights, the European minimum wage, the European Labour Market Authority, the revision of the job-posting and recruitment directives, and new family–work initiatives are examples of policies and institutions that are supposed to strengthen the EU’s legitimacy by accelerating Social Europe. However, a number of these initiatives affect national policy competences. Therefore, some of the initiatives are met with scepticism by member states and labour market organizations at both the national and the EU level. Nonetheless, several of these initiatives have survived the EU decision-making process, suggesting that regulatory sceptics have been willing to act jointly with other actors. Can such Social Europe solidarity be maintained and thereby create the basis for greater legitimacy for the European project?

The main actors in the Danish labour market, as in several of the other Nordic countries, have a complex relationship to European social and labour market regulation. On the one hand, they appreciate that Denmark often is used as a role model for Europe when it comes to social and labour market regulation. As a consequence, Denmark has gained influence that goes beyond what one might expect from a small member state. On the other hand, Danish organizations have generally tried to fence in the Danish model by claiming the principle of subsidiarity. In the research programme, we will investigate these areas:  

  • Social Europe and the Danish model
  • the EU as a strategic resource or a necessary evil
  • drivers behind the many new initiatives and their implementation.