Mutual learning in the European employment strategy: how? how much?
Mutual learning among the Member States is the primary purpose of the employment policy of the European Union. The two most important questions in this regard are how learning occurs and how much learning takes place. In this article I argue that the existing analyses of the effects of learning in the European employment strategy have been either determined by the sender’s interests or have underestimated how mutual learning between countries takes place. In stead the article develops a constructivist approach to learning and uses it to generate some concrete hypothesis about when learning in committees is most likely to take place. Afterwards, this constructivist approach is used to analyse the institutional framework surrounding the European employment strategy in order to evaluate whether the potential for learning is optimal. Finally, the article concludes that even though some basic premises for learning is fulfilled, the potential for mutual learning could and should be increased by implemented at range of concrete institutional reforms. Firstly, a range of professional and autonomous sub-committees which reports to the EMCO should be established. Secondly, the EMCO should be given more time to discuss the national action plans in meetings which more loosely defined agendas. Thirdly, the cooperation should be concentrated around the areas where the differences in terms of policy performances among the Member States are greatest. Fourthly, the president of the EMCO should be given a more prominent role at the expense of the Commission. Finally, the members of the EMCO should to a higher extent come from the directorates in the Member states rather than the minister’s departments.
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