Sonderforschungsbereich 1342 "Globale Entwicklungsdynamiken von Sozialpolitik", Universität Bremen
Governments all around Europe responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with massive budgetary expansions. A third wave of Euro-austerity is imminent, however – just like in the first two episodes during the 1990s and after the Great Recession of 2008. Many are already concerned the pandemic will provide a trump card for conservative governments wishing to cutback welfare programs. Does the third episode of Euro-austerity after COVID-19 represent the final nail in the coffin of Europe’s welfare states? Or is this episode yet another ordinary blow these welfare states have grown to survive? I offer comparative historical insights for these hot-button policy questions based on my recent book Euro-Austerity and Welfare States. In the talk, I trace developments in social expenditures and social rights in the first episode of Euro-austerity in the run-up to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) during the 1990s. I then show how governments reformed welfare states in Belgium, Greece, and Italy – countries where austerity’s impact was expected to be greatest. I close by discussing key takeaways from the politics of welfare state reform during the earlier episodes of Euro-austerity for the final Episode of Euro-austerity looming large after COVID-19.
About the speaker:
Tolga Bolukbasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. Dr. Bolukbasi’s work cuts across the fields of comparative public policy and comparative political economy. His most recent research explores questions lying at the heart of distributive politics in Turkey in a comparative European perspective.