German Turkish Masters Program in Social Sciences Course ID: GTSS 502 Instructors: Prof. Dr.

Helga Rittersberger-TILIC

Positioning the Turkish Welfare Regime in the European Context
The influence of the European Social Model on Turkish welfare state transformation

Stefan Kohlwes Student ID: 1714617 Stefan.kohlwes@gmail.com Ankara 10 June 2010

Contents 1. 2. Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 3 European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? ........................................................... 4 2.1 2.3 3. The European Social Model ..................................................................................................... 6 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model?..................................................... 9

The Turkish Welfare Regime: .......................................................................................................... 9 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State ................................................. 10 Three informal channels of welfare provision ...................................................................... 11 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: ............................................................................. 14 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition - social security reform: ............................................ 15

4. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion................................................................................. 17

2

1. Turkey provides a very interesting and distinct example of welfare regimes in transition. Turkey. it is furthermore our concern to evaluate to what extent an influence of current debates on the European Welfare States and in specific on a “European Social Model” can be retraced within the process of welfare state transformation in Turkey. even admonishers of budget discipline and public spending cuts such as the World Bank and the IMF advice Turkey to increase their spending on welfare provision. As will be shown. Turkey is in a different position. Many scholars. the provision of welfare services especially in the field of social security has not played a prominent role until now but is more and more to be seen on the political agenda. Thus. Introduction This paper provides a case study of the Turkish welfare regime in a comparative perspective. whereas cuts in public spending and especially in welfare are discussed and promoted in most European countries. The aim is not merely to analyze the path that Turkey has embarked upon with the recent reform packages under the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP – Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi). Having its origins in industrialization and the rise of social tensions. as a country positioned at the periphery of geographical as well as political Europe. see the welfare state currently under sever attack by the continuing promotion of a neoliberal agenda as well as by economical. Even though political concepts of modernization and westernization have shaped the path Turkey has taken over the last century. A formal welfare regime is yet to be constructed and even though the struggle for greater efficiency certainly plays a role. even mirror the vision of how the European Union pictures its future welfare states to be? 3 . In the framework of the accession negotiations with the European Union. Might Turkey. it has come to be a highly institutionalized component of European state tradition. Public spending on welfare is among the lowest in the OECD countries. The prevailing perception in the literature describes the welfare state as a European invention. however. social and political questions and predicaments generally associated with the notion of globalization. still highly mobile as to its low degree of institutionalization and allegedly being influenced by European ideas. emerged from a state tradition interlinked with European countries yet highly distinct from them at the same time.

The dominant narrative within the literature discussing the development of welfare states considers the welfare state as a European and a capitalist invention.” 2. The German Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck was the first to introduce a system of work-based social insurance in times of not only rising social tensions in the course of the industrializationinduced social questions but also in times of hardening class-divisions and the political mobilization of the working class. the most pressing socioeconomic and structural shortcomings and finally the transformation under the AKP-led government shall put the Turkish welfare state into (European) perspective. This will be done not only in order to frame the discussion about an alleged “European Social Model” but also to carve out some crucial differences between most European welfare regimes and the Turkish one. the discussion about the welfare states origins and its aims has never ebbed away and is reaching in fact new peaks. the aim within the scope of this paper cannot be to provide a detailed evaluation of specific reforms in a certain domain of the welfare state. regards welfare as an unaffordable social cost and as having a detrimental impact on individual morality and motivation. An evaluation of the historical legacies of state-society and state-market traditions. orthodox Marxian scholars regard welfare policies as designed by the state to appease the working class and thus continuously solidify the existing capitalist system and smoothening/concealing its inherent unjust social relations and contradictions. In the conclusion the question will be discussed whether Turkey converges towards a “European Social Model. 4 . welfare provision by the state has come to be seen as an essential part of modern states. The conservative narrative. A short introduction about the current debates of (European) welfare tradition and a discussion about a common European conception of the welfare state coined with the concept “European Social Model” shall provide the framework. meanwhile. European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? The main aim of this brief introduction on European welfare regimes is to put the following chapters into a balanced perspective. Still. In the meantime. Emphasis will be put on outlining the debate about divergences and trends of convergence among European welfare regimes. Whereas the formerly critical social democracy has come to identify itself with the welfare state.Considering this rather broad conceptual question.

At the latest since the international (Western) paradigmatic shift in political economy which occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the course of financial crises and increasing impact of globalization. the convergence thesis argues that gradually welfare states tend to converge with each other. a set of problems deriving from developments which were everything but limited to the national sphere: demographic trends leading to the ageing of population and changes in family structures. Concerning the critique on EspingAndersons typology see: Arts. pp. a forth type based on special characteristics of southern-European countries was added to EspingAndersons typology1. 137-159 5 1 . and the labor market play in sustaining the livelihood of the individual in society (Grütjen 2008: 113). and changing labour markets state policies in the light of enhanced international competition (Buğra & Keyder 2003: 12 ff). Wil. there are two ideas dominating the current discourse about the laws behind the development of welfare states. In alleged contrast. countries are growing more alike. Both ideas shall be discussed briefly: The concept of “welfare regime” is defined in terms of the different roles that institutions such as the state. the conservative model. albeit as a matter of fact to quite different extents. the emergence of post-industrial service economies. Myles & Pierson 2001: 312 ff). the family. all models faced. which is institutionalized on the basis of employment and the supporting role of the family. The first idea is related to Esping-Anderson’s prominent typology of welfare regimes focusing on path-dependent development and the ensuing immobility of welfare states due to high degrees of institutionalization (Achterberg & Yerkes 2009: 1. Thus. John (2002) Three worlds of welfare capitalism or more? A state-of-the-art report in: Journal of European Social Policy 12. fourth type. Gelissen. Later. Esping-Anderson introduced this concept and defined three types of welfare regime in developed Western countries: the market-oriented Anglo-Saxon model. As the Turkish welfare regime is usually categorized within that last.Notwithstanding this ongoing and crucial debate. and the Scandinavian model where a universal approach based on equal citizenship is of great importance for the design of social policies. flexible production patterns replacing the Fordist production system. the second idea is that with modernization. it shall be discussed more thoroughly at a later point.

it just raises the blood pressure“ (Anna Diamantopoulou – Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs. the following paragraph will mainly focus on sketching general ideas on European welfare on the one hand and on the feasibility that the concept has impact on the transformation process in Turkey as a candidate for full membership. what would be the use of such a minimum standard obligation? In the scope of this paper it is only to a limited extent possible to retrace the multi-faceted debate on the “European Social Model. it is exactly the question connected to this assumption which is crucial.2003) Is the European Union with its conception of a European Social Model a factor actively “producing” convergence? Before we approach an answer with reference to the Turkish case we shall first clarify if there is enough convergence. For others. A strong narrative is that generous social provision in the context of global economic change represents an unaffordable luxury for advanced industrial societies.It is those shared factors pressing for change and the emergence of a neoliberal agenda promoted as an international remedy that gave rise to the second idea of increasing convergence. i. Besides alleged institutional obstacles opposed to the implementation of more stringent common social policies on a European level. There is thus a widespread perception that the changing global environment fosters a “race to the bottom” and leads to a much more modest level of social provision. 2.1 The European Social Model „For some in the EU the expression „European Social Model“ evokes warm feelings of social justice and solidarity.” As bureaucratic and legal question are of immense complexity. 6 . Convergence is hence perceived as leading towards a kind of “neo-liberal welfare state” (Achterberg 2009: 4). Labour Party. agreement between the 27 member states in terms of social policies to define a relative coherent European Social Model.e. How do policy and decision makers in the EU picture a common social model to be? The definition of European minimum standards of welfare that states should provide its citizens would be in line with the neoliberal ideology in case the minimum is set low enough and would at the same time pay credit to the still very different national setting in the 27 EU member states. On the other hand. Within that context.

it is used in White Papers of the European Commission as a concept and is constant object of discussion. eliminating national control over exchange rates and monetary policy and finally. the European integration process has created a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between policies promoting market efficiencies and policies promoting social protection and equality. The heterogeneity of welfare states increased with each new member state. The following process of European integration from Rome over the Single European Act to Maastricht and its commitment to the European Monetary Union was exclusively framed by considerations of market integration and liberalization (Scharpf 2002: 646 ff. As a consequence of that imbalance and the great diversity of welfare regimes among the 27 EU member states. policy recommendations and joint commitments to certain values than by accountable law (to use this neoliberal jargon). At the same time they must operate under the fiscal rules of monetary union while their revenue base is eroding as a consequence of tax competition and the “need” to reduce nonwage labor costs (Scharpf 2002: 666). it is foremost used to highlight common European patterns in contrast to those in the USA. While at the national level economic policy and policies concerning social protection still have more or less the same constitutional status. liberalizing state-owned industries and infrastructure functions. Yet. with the very important stability and growth pact. a uniform European legislation in field of the social-policy has hardly exceeded the relatively low minimal standards that are acceptable to all Member States. the European integration process was foremost concerned with removing tariff barriers. rigidly constraining public sector deficits of its member states. National welfare states are constitutionally constrained by the “supremacy” of all European rules of economic integration. liberalization and competition law.The first treaties of Rome leading to the creation of the European Economic Community did not attempt to harmonize policy fields such as social regulations or taxation.). Politically. It was thus foremost economic integration and its inherent economic aims and not social policy consciously dealing with and targeting social problems that effected social policies in member countries. Until today. even though a European Social Model is currently much more defined by soft law. Russia or Latin America but it is also presented as a necessary counterweight to the process of economic integration (Manning 2007: 493). 7 .

“improved living and working conditions” … “proper social protection”.General objectives in terms of social policy and the vision of a “Social Europe” have been formulated in many treaties. the aim to reach a greater convergence in terms of social policy was explicitly stated and a method to reach that aim was agreed upon: the “open method of coordination”. “guaranteeing fundamental human rights”.2 The European Trade Union Confederation meanwhile formulates even more broadly the principles of the European Social Model as “creating a more equal society” by “ending poverty and poverty wages”.europa. rights to fair and just working conditions. in the Lisbon European Council in 2007. Moreover. discrimination. collective redundancy). or in the “social acquis” as part of the acquis communautaire defining “obligations” in the framework of individual employment (contracts and relationships of employment.org/a/2771 8 . The treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) set down fundamental social objectives such as the “promotion of employment”. “dialogue between management and labor” or “the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion. equality between men and women or trade union rights. charters and international agreements.eu/JOHtml. health and safety at work) and collective labor relations (worker representation. equality and solidarity. While leaving effective policy choices at the national level.etuc. social security and social assistance.” The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights includes chapters on freedoms. Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union & Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union: http://eurlex. information and consultation. it tries to improve these through promoting common objectives and common indicators and through comparative evaluations of national policy performance.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:SOM:EN:HTML (accessed: 5 June 2010) 3 2 The European Trade Union Confederation on the European Social Model: http://www. equal treatment.3 Further more or less concrete regulations have been part of succeeding Treaties such as the Social Protocol of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 with its “formulation of standards” on working time and equal opportunity regulations. “essential services and an income that enables every individual to live in dignity.

4 As a neoliberal term 9 . While there is indeed. as well as the level of economic development. To what extent a European Social Model could also build a future counterweight vis-à-vis the contradictions of neoliberalism seems to be a justified question. “anticipatory” and “aspirational” character (Diamantopoulou 2003: 3). In its whole design to stress the coexistence and in fact interdependence of “economic growth” and “social justice”4 and “competitiveness” and “solidarity”. Even if the term “European Social Model” escapes precise definition. The Turkish Welfare Regime: The structure and expansion of welfare states depends on socioeconomic factors. 3. the emphasis will be put on sketching the Turkish Welfare regime in its broad characteristics as well as on defining the biggest challenges. and even though it tends to conceal the vast differences between the 27 member welfare states.2. Similar to expressions such as “European Union” or “Common Foreign and Security Policy”. the word “model” hints at a progressive real convergence of views among member states on general aims which they seek to achieve in employment and social policy. ideology. the character of a European Social Model seems to be relatively distinct. as a model. reminds as in fact of the neoliberal jargon in its “third way-design”. The following evaluation of the Turkish welfare regime and the recent reforms of the social security system shall thus take into account both. A short evaluation of the recent reforms will be made in order to be able to define a “direction” of Turkish social policies. a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between social and economic regulations and legislation. After a short overview over Turkey’s recent economic history under the influence of globalization and neoliberalism. as Scharpf has stated. tradition. specific national characteristics as well as the context of global and European trends in the last three decades which some refer to as the decline of welfare states. it has.3 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model? It is claimed here that the European Social Model exists foremost because it is used as a concept in official documents of the European Commission.

vol. Very different from most European countries. The reforms and programs implemented at the beginning of the 1980s thus signaled a dramatic shift in the state’s role in market and society and its economic policies which had sever effects on the structure of the Turkish labor market. we will make use of a terminology provided by Elveren on the one hand and Buğra & Keyder on the other. Most prominent among them. 55-139.1. Cambridge. Cem Utku (2009) Social Security Reform in Turkey: Different usages of Europe in shaping the national welfare reform 7 6 5 10 . Paul Pierson (1996) “Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan. 111 – 129. Turkey is usually classified as belonging to the SouthernEuropean type.” Cambridge University Press. however.3. a large public sector and high figures of state-owned enterprises. a move connected to its most prominent and radical precursors Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA. Politiy Press. Steps of privatization and liberalization had been incremental and always accompanied by severe political tensions. „Dismantling the Welfare State“ is an expression frequently used in the literature to refer to the impact of neoliberal policies on the welfare states. Turkey has until then had a long tradition of etatism. With reference to Esping-Andersons typology. pp. Cambridge. to provide some safety mechanism against social contingencies (inability to earn income when sick or old). Both terms stress the same characteristic See for example: Bob Jessop (2002) The Keynesian Welfare National State and The Schumpeterian Competition State in: The Future of Capitalist State. See for example Grütjen. 7 no. Different attempts have been made to classify Turkey’s welfare regime. Daniel (2009) The Turkish Welfare Regime: An Example of the Southern European Model? The Role of the State. Market and Family in Welfare Provision in: Turkish Policy quarterly.7 In the following. Duyulmus. the emergence of neoliberalism did not come along with calls to “dismantle the welfare state. pp.”6 This derives from the fact that the Turkish Welfare Regime was not and still is not nearly comparable to European states in its attempt to guarantee “individuals and families a minimum level of income.1 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State Turkey’s encounter with neoliberalism pretty much occurred at the same time as in Europe. where the politics of Keynesian demand management and comparatively expansive state regulation were abandoned to shift towards a new dogma/conceptualization of (re-) commodification of labor and dis-organization of capitalism in the 1980s5. and ensure some equality concerning social services” (Asa Briggs in: Elveren 2008: 213). Thatcher and the politics of Retrenchment.

Wheras Elverens terminology hints at the fact that the state. does not exist. Elveren refers to Turkey –being a “developing country” – as an “indirect and minimalist welfare regime” (Elveren 2008: 214). is often a contribution to the family’s 11 . A universal social assistance scheme tied to citizenship as existent in most European countries. subordinate role.2 Three informal channels of welfare provision Buğra & Keyder define the three most important channels of welfare provision as the “continuing ties of newly urbanized immigrants with their villages of origin”. The Turkish labor market is characterized by a relatively high significance of agricultural employment still comprising about 40% of the workforce (B&K 2003: 16). the current system cannot achieve coverage for a sufficiant part of the Turkish population. Considering the widespread assessment that industrialized and democratic states need a broad welfare regime to reproduce itself. Buğra & Keyder stress the problem inherent in an inegalitarian system. The long and to some extent still persisting durability of those channels can to some extent be explained by the specific dynamic of the rural urbandivide and the character of urbanization in Turkey.which has also been widely discussed as being part other Soutern-European countries such as Spain. Keyder 2006: 211). Greece or Portugal. 3. “possibilities of informal housing” and foremost the importance of family and neighborhood assistance mechanisms” (B&K 2006: 220). it is necessary to contemplate the specific character of the informal channels of welfare provision in Turkey that have played and are partially still playing a great role in keeping relative stability in spite of the severe socio-economic impact of Turkey’s neoliberal course change in the 1980s and 1990s. Given that the labor market structure has long been and still is characterized by its high figures of informally employed as well as unpaid family labor. the money earned. The characteristics of the Turkish welfare regime which lie behind both terms shall be topic of this chapter. it attributes itself) a small. The formal social security system is characterized as a highly fragmented and hierarchical system of a corporatist character which provides combined health and pension benefits to formally employed heads of household according to their status at work. Whereas many family members migrate to cities. as one possible provider of welfare along with the market and informal networks. predominantly through informal employment. Buğra & Keyder meanwhile use the term “inegalitarian corporatist welfare regime”(Buğra. priviledging particular interests. is attributed (as a matter of fact.

the family continues to be regarded as the key element of the Turkish welfare system. or the gecekondu solution to the urban housing problem do not constitute a formal policy of income and employment but they have been successful in keeping unemployment and worse forms of poverty under control. started to erode during the 1990s when an increasingly affluent middle class started to be tended by the real estate market thereby commodifying land that had thereto served as a source of social security for relatively indigent urban migrants. The official “moral legitimacy” the gecekondu had enjoyed. The second factor might be called – in Elveren’s words – an indirect provision of welfare by the state. thus disposing of a source of wealth and social security. The state for a long time having been an “employer of last resort” with its state-owned enterprises. urban immigrants had the possibility to occupy public land in the periphery of cities. Even though family and neighborhood assistance also practically continues to be an important source of social security. thus maintaining a system of informal mutual assistance and social security. they were not only “provided” with free housing. Buğra & Keyder. Before the 1980s.common income. Through eventual formalization of those occupied spaces they also became owners of land and real estate. developments exceeding the Turkish case such as declining birth rates and the increasing dwindling of the extended to the nuclear family in the urban context has put further pressure on Turkey’s informal. They have also kept in place a socioeconomic order where family solidarity could compensate for the absence of a formal security system that could effectively deal with risk situations such as unemployment. Thus. however. Being 12 . The family is the third and most important pillar of informal welfare provision in Turkey (a common and crucial feature of the Southern European welfare state). That means at the same time that many urban immigrants can still rely on mutual forms of assistance being provided by the family. “traditional” channels of welfare provision (World Bank 2005 in Grütjen 2008: 3). sickness or age (Buğra 2003: 56ff). Elveren and Yeldan all stress the role of the neoliberal transformation as having deteriorating effects not only on the Turkish economy and the structure of the Turkish labor market but also on the hitherto existing informal channels of welfare provision. agricultural policies that have contributed to the survival of small family farms. In spite of those developments. These so-called gecekondu were furthermore “mechanisms” that could transfer whole networks of family and neighborhood from the countryside into the city.

With the erosion of informal welfare provision. The World Economic Forum ranked Turkey 105 among 115 countries in terms of equal opportunities of women on the labor market. Turkey counted not more than 23. Today. This puts. providing social protection to a small minority of the population formerly employed in the public or industrial sector. Recent studies have indicated that female employment in the informal sector has risen significantly as especially badly paid home-work and so-called piece-work performed by women plays an increasingly important part in securing sufficient family income. has come to be seen as one of the major challenges to the Turkish welfare state.” The fight against child labor and the integration of women into the Turkish labor market for example pose serious challenges to be dealt with by the Turkish state (Turkey 2009 Progress Report: 65). Turkey had and still has severe problems to maintain traditional forms of welfare policies as well as to adapt to the socio-political challenges that come along with privatization. poverty in various forms. The low labor-force participation rate of women also poses a serious problem for the long-term financing of the social security system as many of them are passively insured over their husbands without paying any premiums. in turn immense financial strains on the long-term financing of the slowly transforming social security system. Turkey – to use a political jargon – “lacks behind” in terms of tackling those challenges and social problems. With the breaking away of state-provided employment.exposed to hard competition from abroad and to the logic of international finance. In many different areas. the already mentioned form of “inegalitarian corporatism” developed. As in many developing countries. liberalization but also a new type of urbanization. the state did not provide formal protection against risk categories such as sickness or age. and a shift from agricultural to industrial employment (in Turkey as a lateindustrializing country to a much lesser degree) and later in the service sector. the World Bank estimates that about half of the Turkish labor force works in the informal sector. 13 . though not a new phenomenon. Whereas on average 56% of women in the EU 27 were employed in 2005. the figures people employed in the informal labor market increased significantly. but rather provided formal employment opportunities in state owned enterprises or indirectly in state-protected private sector enterprises. Thus.7% (Grütjen 2008: 3). World Bank reports on the Turkish and regular assessments of the European Union give evidence that the socio-economic problems is facing and will be facing are immense and on very different “battlegrounds.

Non-existence of universal social rights connected to citizenship Social assistance schemes connected to citizenship do not yet exist. High indebtedness of social insurance agencies The main reason is to be found in the structure of the Turkish labor market. About 22% are entitled to a minimum pension (65 TL in 2005. Considering current demographic developments. Insufficient coverage of the population: This deficit refers to the quota of people who are covered as well as to the benefits payed.3. have a highly volatile character (Grütjen 2008: 4ff) 14 . Four main deficits of the Turkish social system can be defined. Unequal distribution of social services This aspect underlines what Buğra & Keyder have termed as „inegalitarian corporatist regime. 3. 4. People employed in the informal labor market do not pay premiums yet most of them are insured passively with the head of the household. Thus. Whereas officially 84. while the Food Poverty line defined by the World Bank was 85 TL). for example offered by social institutions funded by the state. Turkey might be facing serious problems. 1.“ Different social insurance agencies each tending a specific clientele offer different services and thus solidify inequality within the population. Only in the USA and in Mexico less people are covered by the public health care system. a great part of the Turkish population has to pay for medical care by themselves. Only those services which are offered in the framework of social insurances are connected to legal entitlements. respectively which the Turkish social security system is not able to tackle.5 % of the Turkish population is covered by health care insurances.3 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: These problematic developments due to a complicated mixture of trends which exceed the Turkish borders and the specific historic legacy of welfare conceptions in Turkey lead to a set of serious problems which the formal Turkish security system is exposed to. the World Bank published figures around 67%. Every other services. 37% does not have any entitlement to pensions. 2. Only 41% of the Turks older than 65 receive payments out of pension insurance schemes.

the recommendation concerning reforms in social security clearly promote economic development and the creation of a high level of competitiveness before dealing with concerns such as social equality or poverty. emphasis shall be put on the environment in which those changes have been discussed. In the 2002 and 2003 reports. Even though some of the recent reforms will be discussed briefly.9 Elveren states that although the EU emphasizes the importance of enhancing social security by increasing state Although Pierson has stressed that the World Bank seems to have changed its „philosophy“.3. as clear and measurable. Turkey was required to “ensure the sustainability of the pension and social security system” as a part of economic criteria. more encompassing than the IMF and the World Bank. in its economic conditions enabling a country eventually to full membership. It has already been stated at the beginning that the European agenda concerning member states as well as accession countries is strongest. it is stated that – in terms of social policies – “amendments to the current legislation are still needed in order to ensure the proper functioning of the social security system and to ensure its fiscal sustainability” (Commission Communication 1999). Turkey has been strongly influenced in its entire political course by different international actors. “European Union Council Decision of 19 May 2003” 2003 9 8 15 . In the Council Decisions in 2001 and 2003.social security reform: Since the turn of the millennium.8 Another actor. stressing non-state and community responses (Pierson 2004:6ff) see “European Union Council Decision of 8 March 2001” 2001. repositioning itself on the issue of social policy and development and paying great attention to “attacking poverty”. for example. The International Monetary Fund as well as the World Bank had a strong hand in the neoliberal transformation process of Turkey’s economy giving out conditional loans that ensured Turkey’s economic opening and streamlining with the neoliberal agenda. more and more efforts have been made by consecutive Turkish governments to reform the Turkish social security system and to tackle the problems discussed above.4 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition . Even though cuts in public spending on welfare could hardly be promoted considering the fact that Turkey has one of the lowest figures in state expenditure on social security. is – as a matter of fact – the European Union. mainly by promoting well-known third-way means.

6% live below the poverty line. but sets it alongside the lived reality of life in Turkey: 1. has not been approved yet. Buğra and Keyder (2006) as well as Grütjen (2008) praise the reforms in the course of which the state starts to contribute to social security provision. while 25.or in the case of Turkey: making sure that there will be no drastic increases (Elveren 2008: 221 ff). so characteristic for European countries. corporatist regime. even though not entirely new. The most extensive reform packages have been passed in 2006 and 2008 under the liberalconservative government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and signify an attempt to fight against the increasing indebtedness of social insurance agencies on the one hand and move towards a more universal scheme of social security. A universal social assistence scheme on a rights-based approach. In an evaluation of the transformation process.support. But an official draft prepared by the AKP foresees the introduction of social assistance. conditional on 16 . yet with 3-5% public allowances lay far under the figures of at least 20% in the European Union. which aims at covering every citizen by providing basic health services. The 2006 EU report praised the new 2006 legislation on social protection. Furthermore. while most issues of concern to those at risk of poverty and social exclusion were largly neglected. away from what Buğra & Keyder have termed an “inegalitarian. the huge gap between average European and Turkish standards in welfare provision becomes clear once more. the EU does not say anything different from the IMF or the WB who have pointed out the necessity of social security reform for Turkey as part of their major general policy. which is foremost to decrease public expenditures . 2006: 54 in: Manning 2007: 492). the child poverty rate (below 6 years of age) is 34%. bureaucratic centralization and a new institutional structure should integrate thereto existing institutions under a single roof and gather dispersed social benefits provided by several institutions (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu). The percentage of the latter increased to 40% in the rural areas. There were also. a General Health Insurance system was introduced. According to the same study. while this rate reaches almost 40% in rural areas.29% of the population live below the hunger line. It was harshly criticized that the reforms seemed to be strongly influenced by financial concerns (with the IMF as an influential political actor) as well as by the concerns of those already formally employed. A due to the discussed labor market structure and the increasing problem of poverty very crucial point on the agenda could not yet be implemented. (EU.” In 2006. attempts to partially privatize social security.

Turkey is highly mobile and may thus have freer choices which path to embark upon. In his analysis of late developing welfare states. It is. very difficult to say whether Turkey’s process of welfare-transformation has been influenced by a distinct idea of a European Social Model. even if Murat Baseskioglu’s quotation from 2005 might suggest otherwise. However we will like to enact a reform that is appropriate for our domestic dynamics” (Murat Baseskioglu. we are seeking a stable and sustainable social security system in accordance with the European Social Model where the experiences of IMF and World Bank can be valuable assets in the reform process. the International Labor Organization plays a strong part (Pierson 2004: 2). Whereas European convergence in terms of welfare policies is to a large extend hindered by deeply rooted institutions and the ensuing high political and economic costs of restructuring. 2005) This paper showed that Turkey is facing social problems which derive from the historical legacy on the one hand and from processes of neoliberal transformation in the context of globalization on the other hand. “We do not want a social security reform imposed on us or ordered from us. Whereas the economically motivated interest and recommendations of international financial institutions as well as of the European Union are clearly 17 .participation in productive activity and thus as well in line with the neoliberal views on social justice and its vision of an active and productive citizen. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion. Minister of Labour & Social Security.besides the often mentioned IMF and WB. 4. Christopher Pierson states that they have always been strongly influenced both by the example of developed welfare states elsewhere and by the promptings of international agencies . The fact that social policies were never regarded as a crucial task of the government and the ensuing low degree of institutionalization leaves the incumbent government in a unique position.

Elveren sees in his analysis no difference between the “European paradigm” and the “neoliberal paradigm” 11 10 Amongst others: Guillen & Pallier 18 . As already mentioned. the open method of coordination or the deployment of incentives of “cognitive Europeanization” (such as participation in the European Social Fund. conceptualized as “cognitive Europeanization” of greater significance11.recognizable as a driving factor for reforms10. providing great amounts of money with the condition that it is applied in a specific framework). is much harder to retrace. Whereas a direct institutional impact. the European Social Model as a “soft factor” to a large part based on values.This process is also underlined by the entrance of “European” attitudes and perceptions about social issues and social problems and the best way to tackle them into the Turkish policy discourse. requiring the adaptation of a European social policy model or the compliance with EU conditions on social policy does not seem to play a big role I consider indirect pressure imposed by the EU on candidate countries. The changes in social policy in Turkey (as well as in other candidate countries) should be understood as an interaction between adaptive pressures coming from both the EU and international organizations and the capabilities and constraints of their interaction with domestic actors. The mentioned nonbinding recommendations.

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