RECON Online Working Paper 2011/29

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Choice in European Reforms of Social Policies

The Case of Public Employment Services


Waltraud Schelkle (London School of Economics and Political Science)


Many European countries have embraced the choice agenda in welfare arrangements with a view of improving efficiency and/or quality.  The motivations range from legitimising public welfare and administrative modernisation, to electoral politics and cost containment. Our research project included case studies on education, long-term care and public employment services which are very different in terms of stakeholders, fiscal relevance and the role of the European Union in enhancing choice within social and welfare institutions. The overall aim of the research project was to explore the possibility that rather than presenting a challenge to solidaristic welfare citizenship, the introduction of choice may in the longer term safeguard the public provision of services by providing the basis for a new political consensus. If so, this would be good news for Europe’s nascent polity and emerging social union. This paper presents the research design for three case studies and presents the findings of the case study on the reform of public employment services coordinated in and influenced by European integration processes.





Choice Reforms — European Union — Public Employment Services — Reform Politics — Welfare State



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