Chapter

Denmark: from foot dragging to pace setting in European Union social policy

Jon Kvist

in The Europeanisation of social protection

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9781847420206
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303794 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847420206.003.0011
Denmark: from foot dragging to pace setting in European Union social policy

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The relationship between national social policy and the EU is a recurrent theme in public debate throughout Europe. These debates are sparked by EU referenda, regardless of their official theme, with Dutch and French polls on the European Constitution as clear examples. Both entailed heated discussions of the impact and implication of the EU enlargement and European integration on national social policy. This chapter discusses the changing Danish government responses to European integration social policy. Over the past twenty years, the nature of the Danish reactions to EU initiatives has changed considerably. When the Commission tried to get Member States to agree on harmonisation through the adoption of legal acts, Denmark was against it, foot dragging. Social policy was and still is seen by the Danish government as an area of competence for the Member States. In 1992, European collaboration changed after the project on a social dimension achieved only a single directive on maternity. Rather than seeking harmonisation through legislation, Member States began to work together in non-binding ways by setting up common goals and guidelines for policies, and forums for discussion and exchange of experience. Danish governments have supported this line of nonbinding European collaboration in social policy. They have endorsed it when it became an official EU policy, and supported the Lisbon Strategy and the open method of coordination (OMC). Denmark is likely to remain one of the pace-setting Member States in discussing social issues and setting the Social Policy Agenda to the extent that the European collaboration on such matters can provide concrete results for EU citizens. Moreover, Denmark will support the continued use of the OMC in meeting these social issues, so that responsibility for social policy starts and ends at the national level.

Keywords: national social policy; EU; EU referenda; European integration; EU initiatives; nonbinding European collaboration; Denmark; OMC

Chapter.  6271 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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