M. Ferrera, in Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 24, no. 8, 2017, pp. 1233-1251. Also published online on 19 September 2016.
Reorienting the welfare state towards social investment (SI) constitutes a complex and multidimensional challenge of policy recalibration and raises daunting political problems. The temporal mismatch between SI reforms and their returns requires a degree of ‘political patience’ on the side of both current voters and incumbent politicians which is not readily available in contemporary democracies. After reviewing recent debates about the policy and politics of the long term, the article analyzes the strategy pursued by the European Union (EU), with a view to assessing their degree of ‘conduciveness’ to SI recalibration. It is argued that the EU has indeed stimulated policy change at the national level, but that its potential as SI facilitator has been hamstrung by a number of weaknesses and shortcomings, especially on the discursive front. A more convinced and articulated endorsement of the social investment paradigm and a more focused attention to ‘capacity’ at the subnational and grass-root level should be the fronts to prioritize.
The paper is available here.