From austerity to permanent strain? The EU and welfare state reform in Italy and Spain

Margarita León, Emmanuele Pavolini, Ana M. Guillén, Ugo Ascoli

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91 Citations (Scopus)


This article makes a comparative analysis of the trajectories of welfare change in Italy and Spain since the outbreak of the financial crisis. We look at the differences in the types of institutional design to study of welfare reform in these two countries and assess how recent changes have affected welfare state institutions. The article also assesses the level of EU involvement not only through formal instruments around the European Semester, but also by means of agreements with the Troika and the European Central Bank. For this part of the analysis three sets of documents have been used: Commission Recommendations and Council Decisions in relation to Excessive Deficit Procedures; Commission country-specific recommendations based on Stability or Convergence Programmes; and Policy Measures to boost growth and jobs (National Reform Programmes). These documents allow an analysis of the contents of formal adjustment pressures. Other documents and sources (including newspaper articles) have also been analysed in order to look at the role of conditionality and 'backroom' diplomacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-76
Number of pages22
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • EU
  • European Central Bank
  • European Semester
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Welfare state reform under austerity


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