This paper provides a comparative analysis of the Memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in Greece and Portugal in the areas of old-age pensions and labour market policies and shows that, compared to earlier economic governance instruments, the MoUs have entailed much greater interference in setting policy objectives, tighter surveillance and stricter enforcement.

These three dimensions of EU intrusiveness in national social policies have been greater, the more the implementation of the programmes was seen to be stalling, the more adjustment in fiscal or competitiveness variables had failed to take place according to plan and the more direct the relevance of a given policy area for the adjustment in question was.

Although the measures promoted by the EU in the two countries were sometimes in the direction of extending the coverage of the social safety net, the drive to cut expenditures in combination with the increased needs for social protection that the crisis generated led in balanced to weakening the social safety net.

See also the video interview with the author on this working paper.

Table of contents

Full text

Related content

Eloi Laurent

From welfare to farewell

This working paper is intended to shed light on a pressing issue: the apparent growth-dependency of European welfare states at a time of weak growth prospects and strong criticisms of growth. Indeed, while the notion of going beyond GDP growth is gaining momentum in the European Union, as elsewhere, and seems rational and desirable to a growing... Find out more

Why have some countries become more unemployed than others? An investigation of changes in unemployment in EU member states since 2008

This Working Paper investigates links between employment changes and both sectoral developments and changes in earnings levels in six EU member states. The paper challenges the view that a remedy focusing on reducing employment protection and pay levels leads to higher levels of employment. It recommends instead policies to restore investment... Find out more

Janine Leschke

Has the economic crisis contributed to more segmentation in labour market and welfare outcomes?

This paper analyses whether developments on the labour market and in the welfare system during the economic crisis can be seen as perpetuating the trend towards labour market segmentation or whether the crisis may actually have contributed to containing some of the divisions forged in recent decades. The emphasis is placed on (involuntary) part... Find out more

Christina Klenner, Simone Leiber

Welfare states and gender inequality in Central and Eastern Europe

This book edited by Christina Klenner and Simone Leiber and first published in German, focuses on developments in the welfare states of the ten Central and Eastern European EU member states in the transformation process some 20 years after the end of state socialism. It also explores the shifts in gender relationships and inequalities, and tries to... Find out more