Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Public Policy Europeanisation in Response to the Covid‐19 Crisis: The Case of Job Retention Schemes

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To what extent and how did the Covid-19-pandemic trigger the Europeanisation of public policy in the EU member states? This article addresses this question by exploring member states’ responses to the labour market implications of the pandemic. Although the EU due to its free movement principles in effect has a common labour market, labour market policies have remained in the hands of the member states. Nonetheless, we find that they responded in a surprisingly similar manner to rising unemployment caused by lockdowns. Was this policy change linked to Europeanisation processes, and if so, in what way? We find that member states’ responses were related both to economic incentives and to contingent learning playing out in largely informal settings at the EU level. Our findings shed light on how crises may function as a critical juncture that triggers policy change, and how the EU may play a key role in such change. Our study thus also adds insights to our understanding of the mechanisms that underpin Europeanisation, in particular by shedding light on the importance of informal learning processes and the influence of the European Commission also in formally less integrated policy areas.

Keywords:  Covid‐19; crisis; European Commission; Europeanisation; learning; public policy


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© André Sønstevold, Marianne Riddervold, Elsa Lilja Gunnarsdottir. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.