The model of flexicurity – a combination of easy hiring and firing, high benefits for the unemployed and a pro-active labour market policy – could solve many of Europe’s unemployment problems, experts at a conference agreed.
The concept of flexicurity rests on the assumption that flexibility and security are not contradictory, but complementary and even mutually supportive. It brings together a low level of protection of workers against dismissals with high unemployment benefits and a labour market policy based on an obligation and a right of the unemployed to training. The concept of job security is replaced by employment security. Social dialogue between employers and employees is an important aspect of the flexicurity model.
While flexicurity sounds like the right answer to the challenges of today’s accelerated economy, doubts arise as to the transferability of the concept to economies other than the Scandinavian ones where it was born. Flexicurity may be understood as a re-interpretation of those countries’ one hundred year tradition of social dialogue. Such a tradition does not exist in many countries, for example in Central and Eastern Europe. In other countries – mainly the Mediterranean ones – employer/trade union relations have historically been much more confrontational. It remains to be tested whether those countries will as easily accept the disappearance of the antagonism between labour and capital as the Nordics seem to have.