The Youth Guarantee – a Case of Europeanisation of Almp?
The context and the research question
Since the 2008 financial crisis spread over the real economy, youth unemployment rates have been increasing all over Europe, though with notable exceptions. The European Commission launched several initiatives targeting young people’s employment. Among others, the Youth Guarantee has become since December 2012 the flagship policy initiative against youth unemployment. We argue that the Youth Guarantee is a “natural experiment” for investigating the Europeanisation of activation policies, in particular for understanding to what extent this EU initiative has triggered convergence in ALMPs targeting youth across member states.
The contribution to the literature - the added value of the YG case.
Literature on the Europeanization of employment and welfare policies has often focused on broad policy initiatives or EU institutional settings, namely the impact of the EES (Zeitlin et al. 2005), of the OMC (Heidenreich and Zeitlin 2009) or the broad “flexicurity agenda” (Barbier et al. 2009). Rarely has the literature investigated the role played by single specific measures and their impact on national policies.
There are some specific features which make the YG particularly promising. Firstly, European Commission has clearly defined the features of the YG (i.e. the criteria of target group, alternative measures, partnership approach). Secondly, a dedicated budget line has made funding conditional upon clear design and implementing criteria, hence “obliging” countries to stick to specific rules in order to receive financial support. Finally, control over implementation and money spending is strict insofar as the YG is monitored in the framework of the European Semester and has to comply with the ESF regulations.
The analysis - Convergence or path dependency?
We expect that the features of the YG - and the context of high political, societal attention and economic distress in which it was conceived – significantly contribute to a Europeanisation of national ALMPs targeting young people. Hence, under specific conditions (high youth unemployment and favourable attitudes from the part of the national élites), we would expect to find a policy convergence in the adoption of ALMP targeting youth across countries towards the model of the (European) YG.
Furthermore, we expect countries with an administrative misfit (such as Italy, for example) to exhibit specific difficulties in implementing the EU policy due to its lack of administrative capacities.
With aim of assessing convergence and misfit, the analysis is structured in two parts.
The first part provides a broad overview of the implementation of YG schemes across Europe and investigates whether convergence took place in ALMPs targeting young people and which conditions most likely triggered this convergence. This section is based on the available national implementation plans and on early assessments – where available - of the YG schemes as well as on comparable labour market data. The second part deals with the misfit hypothesis and adopts a narrower focus on a selection of case studies. The qualitative in-depth comparison includes countries characterised by low administrative capacities and similar youth unemployment problems (most probably, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal). Although the national YG implementation plans in these countries might suggest a convergence towards the European YG model, the poor existing institutional structure will actually lead to misfit.
Barbier, J.-C., Colomb, F., and Madsen, P. K. (2009). "Flexicurity–an open method of coordination at the national level?" Documents de travail du Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne, 2009(46).
Heidenreich, M., and Zeitlin, J. (2009). Changing European employment and welfare regimes: The influence of the open method of coordination on national reforms: Routledge.
Zeitlin, J., Pochet, P., and Magnusson, L. (2005). The open method of co-ordination in action: the European employment and social inclusion strategies: Peter Lang.