Soft Europeanisation of Work-Family Reconciliation Policy-Making? Social, Policy and Political Learning among German MPs

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The EES, Lisbon and Europe 2020 are the most relevant soft law strategies promoting the improvement of work-family reconciliation-related policies in the EU Member States. In this study, the cases of the German Elterngeld reforms are applied to scrutinise the influences of these three strategies on domestic policy-making. Thus, this research work is based on the theoretical framework of soft Europeanisation and its concomitant social, policy and political learning mechanisms. By means of subject literature, official documents and interviews with German MPs, it is sought to what extent German MPs were influenced by the three EU soft law strategies throughout the policy-making of the two Elterngeld reforms. Although the German reforms strongly coincide with the EU soft law strategies, both content-related and time-wise, this study concludes that EU soft law influence on domestic policy-making concerning work-family reconciliation is overestimated. The effectiveness of EU soft law and concomitant domestic policy paradigm shifts are highly dependent on MP’s interests, pre-existing policies, socioeconomic issues, the domestic political climate and societal discourse. Soft Europeanisation learning mechanisms seem to solely occur in unilateral, clustered, asymmetric processes; yet only among MPs willing to learn from effective work-family reconciliation policy models from MSs with comparable political socioeconomic structures.

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