The Evolution of Pension Policy at National and Supranational Level
Pension policy represents in many respects the corner stone of the contemporary European welfare states. And its reform has emerged as a key issue in most of the European countries. This book aims at improving the knowledge of the long-term and more recent evolution of retirement programmes and their regulation at national and supranational level. It gives detailed information about pensions in nine Western and Eastern European countries (Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and UK). In parallel it develops the study of the European Union action in the field, through regulation, the Stability and Growth Pact and the Open Method of Coordination.
What does history tell us about the evolution of pensions? Is it a story of stability or change? Is there any convergence between European pension models? And then what is the role of the European Union in the field?
This book provides answers to these questions and gives scholars, students and policy-makers a comprehensive description of national retirement programmes as well as theoretical analysis of the reform politics, output and outcomes with a focus on national and European dynamics.
‘Pensions in Europe, European Pensions’ represents a promising step beyond the more traditional comparative contributions, revealing the complex interaction of national and supranational institutions engaged in the most important welfare policy in the ageing European society.
CHAPTER 6 EU Hard (Indirect) and Soft (Direct) Coordination of Pension Policy 199
199 CHAPTER 6 EU Hard (Indirect) and Soft (Direct) Coordination of Pension Policy Introduction Chapter 5 summarized some of the most important EU interventions in the field of pensions. The focus was on EU regulation, i.e. govern- ance by law (and court rulings). Such a process has led to both direct and indirect (positive and negative) integration of pension policy. In the present chapter, the reference is to softer modes of govern- ance: “hard” and “soft” forms of coordination. The former imply mate- rial (for instance financial) sanctions against a Member State in case of breach of the Treaty’s provisions. The latter do not include any sanctions except moral pressure (Wessels and Linsenmann, 2002). Both are defined non-legislative modes of governance (Citi and Rhodes, 2007). There are different coordinating modes in different policy areas. On the one hand, EU budgetary policy, via the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) – that is part of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) – is a typical example of “hard” coordination providing indirect pressure on retirement programmes (see Figure 5.1 in Chapter 5). It establishes binding and quantitative policy objectives, while governments are free to choose their own paths for convergence. Coordination is thus established through benchmarking, peer pressure and the structured process of multi-level surveillance. In case of non-compliance, sanctions are (or should be) activated. On the other hand, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on pensions is a “soft” mode of coordination. Qualitative common objectives are set and Member States freely decide to pursue...
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