European Outlook 1. Annex to the State of the European Union 2004
Social Europe-European outlook 1
Paul Dekker (SCP)
Sjef Ederveen (CPB)
Gerda Jehoel-Gijsbers (SCP)
Ruud de Mooij (CPB)
- Publication date
- 16 October 2003
International comparison, EU, social policy, welfare state,
- Number of pages
- There is broad support for the European Union (EU) in the Netherlands: 73%
of Dutch believe that EU membership is a 'good thing'. The figure in Germany is
59%, in France it is 50% and in the United Kingdom 30%. By contrast, engagement
with Europe is very low in the Netherlands. In late 2002 fewer than one in
three Dutch people felt any attachment to Europe.
- When it comes to international issues and major problems, a large majority
of EU citizens are in favour of a common European policy. However, they prefer
responsibility for health care, education and social security to remain with
- There is no such thing as a European welfare state. However, there are
similarities within certain groups of countries in terms of the way they have
set up their welfare state. The different types of welfare state are converging
slightly in terms of their policies.
- Social policies need not be detrimental to economic performance. Within the
EU, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries have been particularly
successful in combining relatively equal income distribution with a high labour
market participation rate and good economic performance. This is striking,
given the fact that in terms of individual government interventions in the
labour market (protection from redundancy, income tax) there is often a
negative association between social and economic performance. An extensive
social security system, a progressive income tax system and a high degree of
job protection, for example, while being good for social cohesion, reduce the
incentive for people to work.
- The 'open coordination' method, whereby common targets are set but
countries are free to convert them into policies as they see fit, is currently
the only realistic option for the development of social policy in Europe.
However, the EU should play a greater role in matters such as cross-border
These are some of the conclusion from Social Europe, produced jointly by the
Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) and the Social and
Cultural Planning Office at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This first survey, which will be published at the opening of the Dutch
parliamentary year as an appendix to State of the European Union 2004, looks
among other things at public opinion on European integration in the Netherlands
and other EU member states. It also examines a number of aspects of the social
dimension of European integration.