A Regional Account of Flexibilization Across the EU: The ‘Flexible Contractual Arrangements’ Composite Index and the Impact of Recession
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The aim of the paper is to present a comparative analysis of the diffusion of ‘flexible contractual arrangements’ (FCA) across the EU. The homonymous FCA Composite Index (CI) is calculated for all 200 NUTS II-level regions of France, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania. The CI is calculated for 2005, 2008 and 2011 to present a clear picture of causal effects leading up to, and arising from, the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession. The findings suggest that the crisis had more intense consequences in certain regions than in others, and thus its effects upon regional labour markets were spatially uneven. Such an unevenness runs along, and cuts across, a variety of scales, namely the global, the EU and the intra-EU ones. All regions that are at the top of the FCA CI ranking are either regions that lack advanced economic and social or welfare structures, while at the same time facing important pressures from international and EU competitors, or regions of highly tertiarized service economies. The paper discusses the relation between this regional hierarchy, and the official policies of EU and national authorities which seek to re-regulate employment protection and security norms according to new accumulation priorities. Furthermore, it outlines several flexibilizing mechanisms that had contributed to the de-stabilization of modes of social reproduction across different regions, and reinforced each other, even many years before the current crisis occurred. The paper ends with some comments on the validity and social relevance of CIs when not be considered as a goal per se.
KeywordsFlexibilization Composite indicators Recession Regional unevenness EU regions
This research project is implemented within the framework of the Action ‘Supporting Postdoctoral Researchers’ of the Operational Program ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’ (Action’s Beneficiary: General Secretariat for Research and Technology), and is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Greek State (Funding Decision: 11409/31-8-2012). The project is named “The Southern EU flexicurity project,” and it has been awarded to the first author for 2012-2015. The authors are very grateful to Anastasia Christodoulou, Rural and Surveyor Engineer (Dipl) and GIS Specialist (M.Sc.) for designing the maps; Akis Kanelleas, GIS Specialist (M.Sc.) who has provided the geographical data and supported the design of the maps in various ways; Mrs Vicky Katsina for her administrative support throughout the whole project; and Valeria Paul Carril for his strong support during the case-studies conducted.
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