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Guide Challenges to European Welfare Systems

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The introductory chapter summarizes the actual debate about welfare states and welfare state regimes, gives an overview on current welfare state research and analyses the main recent developments necessitating a new focus on European Welfare Systems.


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The twenty-seven chapters on the welfare systems of the member states are written on the basis of a common structure by experts from the individual states. An additional chapter analyses the current social and welfare policies of the EU and focuses on the interplay and limits between European and national social policies. Two concluding chapters provide a a first comparative analysis on the basis of all twenty-seven European Welfare Systems and b a theoretical reflection both arguing for and venturing the idea of politically limited pluralism in European welfare politics.

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Search all titles. Search all titles Search all collections. Your Account Logout. The Handbook of European Welfare Systems. Edition 1st Edition. First Published Figure 3 depicts how the support rates for providing unemployed Europeans a standard of living by the EU varies across countries. On the one end of the approval rates are Mediterranean countries: Spaniards, Cypriots, and Greeks show the highest approval rates. In contrast, with Sweden, Germany, and Poland we find countries with a relative stable economy during the crisis with the lowest approval rates.

Delving into the country differences in more detail, we can identify systematic cross-national variations in attitudes. Figure 4 depicts how the rate of approval for supporting unemployed Europeans increases when the unemployment rate in the country is high. The connection between attitudes and the level of unemployment rate is strong and it indicates that also on the country level self-interest is a key factor.


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What is also notable is that post-socialist countries do not significantly differentiate from Western attitudes, and these do not build one unified and distinct group of countries. Instead, there seems to be a large gap between respondents from creditor and debtor countries of the Eurozone crisis. Our results provide tailwind for those politicians who want to deepen the European integration process and build a social Europe.

The analysis shows that the overwhelming majority supports the idea that the EU should guarantee access to health care, a decent standard of living for the elderly and the unemployed. Our results indicate that Europeans consider social security a right that should be granted to all Europeans.

However, policy makers should not be so hasty to build a supranational welfare system to realize a social Europe, as our results do not give policy makers a green light for a concrete endeavor.

Instead, the results rather provide a general framework for social policy actions, as the TESS was only directed at measuring general attitudes towards Europe-wide responsibility for people in need. Previous studies show Baute et al.

Panels and abstracts | Towards Resilient Nordic welfare states | University of Helsinki

Nonetheless, there are various non-supranational policy tools at hand. For instance, the European Commission could draft appropriate directives, urging national Member States to adequately protect vulnerable groups within nation states, similar to the European Pillar of Social Rights, or an EU-wide minimum wage mentioned by Emmanuel Macron in his Sorbonne address. Second, an emergency budget to fund national social security systems in case of short-term shocks.

Lastly, we want to highlight that more affluent Europeans who more likely constitute part of the European elite are more reluctant to express their support for European welfare solidarity. Our findings indicate that the European project has started to shift from an elite project to one that is relevant for other parts of the population as well.

Does high social spending help the poor? Evidence from European welfare states

Of course, exactly such a development can also endanger the European project, as economic interest based coalitions are more likely to disperse once there is no interest. Future analyses need to delve deeper into the matter and assess whether self-interest really bolsters European welfare solidarity, or it has the potential to undermine it, with also a consequence for building a social Europe.

The Transnational European Solidarity Survey TESS is a unique general representative survey aiming to explore the attitudes of the general population on the topic of European solidarity. The content of this focus article is an excerpt from a forthcoming chapter in a volume on horizontal Europeanization published by Routledge.

This means that EU migration represents a fiscal asset rather than a liability for the main host countries for EU migrants. In effect, restricting the free movement of workers would, if anything, imply a considerable cost for the public purse of these countries. This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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