Public–private partnerships and transnational governance in the European Union: The case of the Lisbon Strategy
The present state of affairs in the European Union (EU) can be best described in terms of a paradox. On the one hand, there is much talk about the so-called legitimacy crisis in the EU, particularly after the French and Dutch referendums of 2005. Although the reasons, justified or not, of the French and Dutch people to vote against the Constitutional Treaty were quite mixed – ranging from the dismantlement of social welfare provisions at home to the elaboration of a superstate at the European level, and from the influx of foreign workers (notably from the member states that entered the EU through the 2004 big bang enlargement) to the future accession of Turkey – a more structural discontent with the elitedriven process of European integration seems a common trend, and not only in France and the Netherlands. On the other hand, this very elite-driven process of European free market integration, though not uncontested at the national level, is moving full speed ahead. Both at the European and at the national level, new measures are announced, almost at a daily or weekly rate, to increase European competitiveness vis-à-vis the outside world. The overwhelming importance of competitiveness is reflected in the so-called Lisbon Strategy, particularly after the March 2005 mid-term review and its subsequent relaunch. In this chapter, we will look at the Lisbon Strategy not as an utter failure (as so many commentators want to have it) but as integral part of the ongoing process of welfare state restructuring at the national level.