This book investigates to what extent and how the European Semester impacts on national employment policy in four EU member states of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region.
Using an original theoretical and methodological framework, and based on empirical evidence from extensive interviews with experts in the field, this book examines the relation between EU preferences, exemplified by the yearly list of country-specific recommendations, and national policy responses to EU suggestions, tracing the extent to which policy change can be attributed to the influence of the European Semester. It extracts three potential mechanisms of European Semester influence on policy change: External pressure, mutual learning and creative appropriation and identifies key contributing and inhibiting factors. The book provides several policy recommendations regarding the organisation and workings of the European Semester process.
This text will be of key interest to students, academics and practitioners in European and EU politics, EU socio-economic governance, EU social policy, European integration, soft Europeanization and the Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe.
Table of Contents
1. Employment Policy in the European Semester: An Introduction
2. Theorizing the Influence of the European Semester: Mechanisms, Conditions and Policy Change
3. Croatia: Cherry-Picking from the European Semester
4. Hungary: A Case of Neglect?
5. Slovakia: Reinforcing Existing Trajectories
6. Slovenia: Crisis Pressure, Socialization and Strategic Use of the European Semester
7. How does the European Semester Influence Employment Policies in Central and Eastern Europe?
Mario Munta is a assistant professor in public policy and EU public policy at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia.
"This is a highly significant book, providing new understandings of the European Semester and its actual impact on policy change in the region, or the lack of it. The author brings the policy process to life and reveals a hampering disconnect between reform-minded civil servants and ignorant political leaders. Munta provides detailed insights into what hampers mutual learning and peer review at the EU-level and how the Commission could consolidate its role in the Semester process while ultimately failing when acting authoritatively on its own."
Uwe Puetter, Europa-Universität Flensburg, Germany.
"This book is of great value for gaining a full understanding of the European Semester ‘in action’. An original focus on CEE countries provides insightful historical, political and socio-economic context which is valuable to understand the formulation of and response to EU policy recommendations. The book ends with practical recommendations to policymakers and the academic community on how to reap positive synergies within the Semester, including better multi-level cooperation."
Sonja Bekker, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
"This book provides significant new insights on the European Semester, on employment policies in four CEE EU member states, and on the application (and applicability) of key policy studies concepts such as mutual policy learning in multi-level fora. Employing a sophisticated conceptual framework, this timely analysis should be of great interest to all students and scholars working on EU governance."
Agnes Batory, Central European University, Hungary.
"This book will be invaluable to anyone interested in the influence of EU economic governance mechanisms on general domestic policy changes – as well as the specific employment policy developments – of EU Member States. Munta’s work outlines when and why national actors respond to European Semester tools, and in doing so contributes to our understanding of how domestic policymakers interpret external pressures."
Valerie D’Erman, University of Victoria, Canada.
"This is an excellent book on EU social-economic governance in four countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which draws on rich empirical evidence highlighting basic features in employment policymaking in these countries. Mario Munta convincingly explores how the European semester procedures changed the general course in employment strategies of Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia."
Zdravko Petak, University of Zagreb, Croatia.
"The author analyses the importance, impact and effects of the European Semester on employment policy of CEE countries in a convincing and knowledgeable way. He is fully aware of the extreme complexity of the successful functioning of labour market policy, but also of the limitations that arise from the relatively weak collaboration and coordination of different stakeholders at the national level. This impressive book is a real and significant contribution to a better understanding and implementation of the European Semester as an important framework that can improve labour markets in CEE."
Predrag Bejaković, Institute of Public Finance, Croatia.