For those outside Europe that think that there is one European Social Model: there’s not. According to the Economist they got champagne, grappa, aquavit and beer. Germany and France have the champagne: strict labour laws and general unemployment benefits. The Mediterranean countries have the grappa model: low benefits but strict labour regulations. The aquavit model is applied in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands. These states have a Protestant work ethic. They will help you find a job, but you must work if you are able to. While the benefits are generous, job protection laws are quite weak. England and Ireland have the beer: no generous benefits and no strong protection of jobs. They do however spend a lot on job centers and the like and have reasonable unemployment benefits.
The European Social Model will be the topic discussed at the next EU summit. Somehow, after Wim Kok’s (somewhat negative) review of the Lisbon Strategy – emphasising competitiveness and innovation – it seems like the emphasis (or the discourse) is shifting towards the European Social Model. Maybe there we have more chances of gaining a top ranking..