Content of the Chapters

Following this introduction, the various chapters shed light on the different aspects related to the politics of welfare services. Chapter 2 sets the scene by looking back at the process of marketization since the 1980s and explaining how it has been pursued through negative integration in the EU. This chapter mainly considers the institutional and legal aspects of negative integration by stressing the overlap between integration through the market and integration through law. In other words, it examines how the agenda for building the Single Market through liberalization directives has been embedded in the progressive elaboration of primary law in successive treaties, and decisions on the conflicts between national regulation and the protection of general interest, on the one hand, and the construction of a supranational Single Market through competition law, on the other. It then enlarges on the policy outcomes of marketization in the realm of welfare services and the larger academic debate about the neoliberal nature of the EU.

The three following chapters deal with a different aspect of policy making and follow a similar pattern explaining: (a) the established rationale and policy decisions, and contentious debates pertaining to marketiza- tion; (b) one key contentious debate showing to what extent politicization and contestation has affected policy making; and (c) how the recent developments account for a the continuation of marketization.

Chapter 3 looks at the main forms of negative integration; that is the agenda for services liberalization and how it has been contested by advocates of regulated capitalism. A particularly relevant case study is the controversy over the Services Directive also known as the ‘Bolkestein directive’. The protest over the EU Services Directive was prominent between 2000 and 2004. The complex issue of services liberalization was politicized by a loose left-wing coalition involving political parties, the alterglobalist association ATTAC, and the trade unions in several Member States and at the EU level. After two years of mobilization, the Commission’s proposal for services liberalization was substantially amended, and the reach of liberalization and deregulation substantially limited, especially as far as SGI are concerned.

Chapter 4 turns to a different strategy of resistance to marketization, namely the promotion of positive integration in the realm of welfare services. A turning point in this regard was the debate on a Framework Directive for re-regulating SGI at the EU level. Between 2000 and 2007, this issue was actively discussed among European decision makers with various communications and Green and White papers issued by the European Commission. In parallel, the Party of European Socialists and the ETUC launched a campaign. This campaign echoed long-standing claims expressed by France for such re-regulation, since the French government had obtained the introduction of a reference to SGI within the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997. In spite of such mobilization for positive integration in the realm of public services, preferences, notably among German decision makers, prevented an agreement within the Council of Ministers and the EP The campaign led by the ETUC also lacked substantial support from member organizations in several countries. As a result, the debate ended in deadlock, and the European Commission never submitted any legislative proposal; the re-regulation of SGI as such was abandoned.

Chapter 5 deals with the way in which European and global political agendas are intertwined by looking at services liberalization in international trade. In terms of contention, the chapter examines mobilization against the GATS—which promotes services liberalization globally. As in the case of the EU Services Directive, the impact of liberalization on welfare services provision was a main trigger of contention. The anti-GATS campaign launched by NGOs throughout the world triggered echoes within the EU institutions and in several EU Member States. The pursuit of market opening in sectors such as water distribution, healthcare and education was criticized by many associations and national and European politicians. While market opening resulting from these negotiations has, for various reasons, remained limited, the chapter also shows that services liberalization has been pursued in various bilateral trade agreements after mobilization waned, including the recent Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).

Finally, Chap. 6 provides an account of the developments brought about by the response to the financial and debt crisis which broke out in 2008. It explains the consequences of fiscal austerity on welfare services across Europe. Furthermore, the ambiguous nature of the EU post-crisis governance framework, the European Semester, is explained in relation with social policy in general and welfare services in particular. The current constellation has also affected the dynamics of contention in a way that is not conducive of coordinated Europeanized protest against the debasing of welfare services. As long as a discourse is prevailing in which ‘there is no alternative’ to austerity, marketization will be pursued as a main policy solution for sustaining—if in a way which does not ensure social cohesion—provision of welfare services across Europe.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >