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The Europeanisation of social protection$
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Jon Kvist and Juho Saari

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420206

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420206.001.0001

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Italy: between indifference, exploitation and the construction of a national interest

Italy: between indifference, exploitation and the construction of a national interest

(p.77) Five Italy: between indifference, exploitation and the construction of a national interest
The Europeanisation of social protection

Stefano Sacchi

Policy Press

Italy is considered to be a warm supporter of the European integration policies. Although the positive attitude of Italian towards the EU has declined in recent years, it remains high enough to allow justifying and legitimising domestic strategies of state modernisation through pointing towards EU membership imperatives. Paradigmatic in this regard is the sequence of reforms in the 1990s that allowed Italy to enter the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) through the main door. However, Italy's implementation is still poor and its participation in the day-to-day EU-level decision making is generally random. This chapter discusses Italy's official response to various recent social policy initiatives, and its tendency to depend on the voluntarism of civil servants commanding few organisational resources and lacking political guidelines on which to orient their actions. However, in some cases, Italy has responded to social policy initiatives by either criticising them or influencing them at the EU level. This response has occurred when the planned initiatives were against the government's domestic policy agenda or when they could be exploited to promote or legitimise this agenda. Whether this type of response signifies a change in the path of Italy's participation in the EU social policy or merely implies a cynical attitude on the part of the government that ruled Italy for the first half of the current decade forms the focus of the concluding section.

Keywords:   Italy, European integration policies, EU, state modernisation, EMU, social policy initiatives, domestic policy agenda, EU social policy

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