The claim by the European Union (EU) to be both the moderniser and the effective
saviour of distinctive European ways of doing things is challenged by this review of
the multi-tiered influence of the EU on change in national models. Competition and
macroeconomic policy is argued to be more significant than soft law in reshaping
national models and in constraining innovation and change to meet new conditions.
Lip service is paid by the EU to different paths of development, but the contradictions
and synergies across institutional and policy approaches that underpin the notion of
varieties of capitalism go unrecognised. European employment models are seen as
primarily contributing to social protection, but the potential role for distinctive
models to promote comparative advantage, as under varieties of capitalism analysis,
is not on the policy agenda.