The paper explores the European Commission’s ideas on social policy. It contributes to the debate on asymmetric economic and social policies in the EU from an ideational perspective. Analysing Commission reports on labour markets, employment, and social affairs over a fifteen-year period (2004–2018), I seek to understand what ideas on employment of underrepresented labour market groups are prominent in the reports and whether there is variation over time. To do so, I draw on the theoretical literature on ideas. The paper concludes that the Commission’s approach to underrepresented groups in the labour market has been and remains justified by an economic growth-discourse, leading to frames and policy ideas dominated by supply-side thinking. Thus, there has been a lack of new policy solutions to underrepresented labour market groups over the past fifteen years, revealing a lack of ideational innovation in the Commission’s early-stage policy formulation.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 14 Aug 2020.
- Social policy
- Labour market policy
- European Commission