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Social dialogue during enlargement: The case of Poland and Estonia

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The article explores the question of impact of European Union (EU) enlargement (2004) on social dialogue in two new EU member countries: Poland and Estonia. The research shows a contradictory influence of the enlargement. On the one hand, social dialogue was supported by European institutions as a way to improve effectiveness and legitimacy of public policies. On the other hand, the logic of European accession was based on the quick transfer of vast numbers of regulations (acquis communautaire), which were not intended as subject to change. This fact made it difficult to develop social dialogue in many areas of public policy, and it made the possibilities to discuss changes in European law with social partners more of a challenge. Consequently, enlargement weakened the role of social dialogue, as an effective mechanism of public reforms in the two countries examined. The article demonstrates the importance of political and administrative culture in the implementation of social dialogue in Central-East European countries. When the influence of European accession is weak and contradictory, the influence of local conditioning grows in importance. In order to explain the impact of local culture on the enlargement processes, the article proposes two models of relations between state and society: (i) administrative state, which is based on socialist state legacy; and (ii) network state, which corresponds with Western European standards of democracy.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/ap.2009.32

Affiliations: Racławicka 1/3, 02-601, Warsaw, Poland., Email: tomasz.grosse@isp.org.pl

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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