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The influence of European governance on the economic and social policies of Member States has been analysed


Research undertaken by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) analyses the impact of European economic governance on labour and social reforms that have taken place in Spain in recent years and how they will determine post-Covid reforms. The results have been published in the book, “El impacto social de la gobernanza económica europea” (“The Social Impact of European Economic Governance”).

Analizan la influencia de la gobernanza europea en las políticas económicas y sociales de los Estados miembros

The economic and social policies of European Union Member States have been influenced by European economic governance, particularly during the financial crisis in 2008 and the Great Recession and above all in countries, such as Spain, that faced the greatest difficulties during those years. This led to significant changes in the social-labour regulatory framework, such as regulating working conditions and social protection. 

However, this transformation has not been carried out using traditional regulatory instruments, such as Directives or Regulations, but using technical reports drawn up by experts at European institutions outside of the institutionalised channels of administrative power. These instruments have succeeded in gaining enough relevance to become profound legislative reforms. Research by a lecturer at the UC3M’s Department of Social and Private International Law, Daniel Pérez del Prado, included in the book “El impacto social de la gobernanza económica europea” (Tirant lo Blanch, 2021), analyses documentation emanating from European economic governance from 2011 to 2019. 

According to Pérez del Prado, “the main conclusions of the study are devastating. There is clear evidence that austerity policies, that have been implemented since 2010, were one of the factors that explain Europe’s relapse into the crisis, its prolonged time period and its direct effects on social protection systems and policies,” he says. “Due to drastic cuts (in pensions, unemployment, health care, etc.), they did not act as social dampening mechanisms. Moreover, structural reforms were aimed at labour markets, not other markets,” he adds. Although, he explains, “the economic policies imposed as a form of greater coercion through bailouts had a large impact on the level of well-being and working conditions in most of the European and, in particular, Spanish population.”

Furthermore, this research delves into the justification provided in order to promote these measures. “The social law model that European institutions propose to Member States is clearly orthodox, it avoids the traditional role of social law and is incompatible. It is assumed that experts at the European institutions are the only ones who are able to understand what is right for their citizens and, therefore, they are responsible for formulating lines of action to follow. However, many of the measures that were promoted were painful, lacked the necessary contrast with other approaches or perspectives, and did not include a cost-benefit analysis,” the author notes.

The study concludes with an analysis of future policies and their implementation.  “We wonder whether activating the general exception clause in the Stability and Growth Pact, and other decisions (such as the SURE Regulation or the Recovery Plan for Europe, Next Generation EU), will cause a real change in the cycle or if it is an exception at a very specific time,” concludes Daniel Pérez del Prado.

Bibliography: Perez del Prado, D. (2021). Impacto Social de la Gobernanza Económica Europea. Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia. ISBN: 978-84-1378-930-9.

Version française (French version)

中文翻譯 (Chinese translation)