European employment models are under pressure to meet new external challenges and changing internal needs. Nine country chapters, covering the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Spain, Hungary and Austria, reveal that institutional change in production, employment and welfare regimes is producing uneven outcomes. These outcomes are found to depend not only upon the variety of capitalism or welfare regime but also on actors’ political will, at national and European level, and the model’s specific architecture. Although examples of revitalization affirm the potential for institutional renewal, the prevalence of partial and incoherent reforms is eroding European employment standards.

What is at stake here is the future of the European social model. The problem here is not so much the EU social and employment reform agenda but its influence on the organization of product markets and macro economic management where its policies are constraining options for social innovation.