Actors, Costs and Values: The Implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive

Brigitte Pircher*, Caroline de la Porte, Dorota Szelewa

*Corresponding author for this work

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The European Union (EU) launched the European Pillar of Social Rights to improve social rights for EU citizens. However, little is known about the domestic dynamics of implementing these new rights. This article examines the implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive in three member states with different policy traditions: Denmark, Germany and Poland. Based on an actor-centred approach, the article demonstrates that two main factors were crucial in motivating national actors to shape the implementation of these rights. First, the economic costs, including new permanent costs emerging from the provisions and the administrative costs of implementing an EU directive, shaped actors’ positions in all three countries. Second, the values of gender equality – whether promoting gender-equal leave or traditional family values – constituted an underlying reason for actors to customise the EU rules differently. Both factors, used as a defence or driver for change, increase differentiated policy implementation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)543-568
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 06 Mar 2023.


  • Europeanisation
  • European pillar of social rights
  • Work-life balance
  • Earmarked parental leave
  • Customisation

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