In This Review

European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration
European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration
Edited by Stephan Leibfried and Paul Pierson
Brookings, 1995, 492 pp

Anyone interested in how the European Union actually works, achieves a set of common policies, and shares power among member states, as well as what influence pressure groups exert and how complicated European policymaking is should consult this remarkable collection of essays. It covers a huge terrain--industrial relations, gender, agriculture, migration, regional disparities, labor--and compares European social policy with that of Canada and the United States, two other multitiered polities. The study blends a thorough empirical investigation with a sophisticated yet readable theoretical treatment, which emphasizes the importance of institutions in shaping policy and the originality of the baroque European institutional edifice. It also shows that in areas once central to national autonomy, the EU now plays an important and expanding role. There is a sharp debate between Wolfgang Streeck, who sees social policy at the European level as a failure and feels current national social policies are regressing from the welfare state to a business-inspired "neo-voluntarism," and the editors, who argue that "in a number of realms, the European Union has moved well beyond the lowest common denominator of member-state preferences."