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Leaving the EU via the backdoor? The UK and the Employment Strategy

10 March 2015

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: Francis Bancroft Building, Rm 3.27, Mile End Campus
Speaker: Dr Paul Copeland (QMUL)

This paper analyses the UK’s engagement with the EU’s Employment Strategy, from both the Labour Governments of Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-2010), through to the Conservative-Liberal Coalition Government under the leadership of David Cameron (2010-present). The paper situates itself within the Europeanization literature, which has identified itself as a key approach to understanding the engagement and impact of EU policy on the Member States and vice versa, particularly in policy areas which use the EU’s open method of coordination. To compare the different governments the paper identifies and analyses three dependent variables at the domestic level over time - politics, processes and policy. The research is based on 12 anonymous semi-structured interviews at both the national and EU levels, as well as the supporting primary documents on the topic. It finds that the governments of Blair and Brown actively engaged in the Employment Strategy with the UK experiencing a Europeanization of its employment policy. In contrast, under the Coalition Government the UK has strategically withdrawn from the governance process and is experiencing a de-Europeanization of employment policy. The findings from the paper highlight the centrality of politics, actors and agency for the engagement of Member States in the Employment Strategy.
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