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When does Europe matter?: an analysis of pension reform policy in Spain and Italy

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Scholars interested in analyzinf how the European Union affects domestic policy making argue that Europeanization occurs when domestic changes take place in response to a gamut of factors emanating from the EU, which not only include policy paradigms developed within the EU policy process but also concepts and ideas. In short, this perspective highlights the "indirect" or "cognitive" impact of the EU on member states' policy decisions by helping to build some ideological consensus and stressing "the way things must be done." The idea that there is more "Europe" in domestic policy makers' dicourse when justifying economic reforms is a powerful one; however, we still need to know what factors make such use of discourse more or least likely. I explore this issue by analyzing episodes of pension reform since the earlu 1990s in Spain and Italy, two countries that had relatively generous public pension systems and that since the 1990s have introduced different reforms. The comparative evidence from these two cases indicates that the use of a discourse aligned with the EU institutions' view on pension policy was key to produce significant changes from the status quo when facing a political configuration characterized by a high number of veto players and a highly fragmented and deficit prone public pension system.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24602/

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