Eurocrats at Work : Negotiating Transparency in Postnational Employment Policy

Abstract: In the European Union political visions of a ‘Social Europe’ are being fuelled by the creation of common EU employment and social policy. The aim of the study is to investigate the workings and dynamics of policy-making in the area of employment, as an integral part of the fashioning of the European Union. Policies are channels for the cultural flows of ideas and notions and are in this way a part of forming ‘society’.The study is an ethnography of the work of bureaucrats in the European Union institutions and the member state governments, in particular in the European Commission and the Swedish government. In this bureaucratic culture of policy-making the Eurocrats move between different EU meetings to negotiate, discuss and decide on common ‘EU’ positions, in this way creating a postnational EU.At the core of the study is the tracing of the policy process of framing the vision of ‘Social Europe’ by the notion of ‘quality in work’. Particular focus is placed on turning this idea into ‘quality in work’ indicators. More specifically, the study explores the processes of making policy decisions quantifiable and transparent, and the assumptions underlying these processes. The development of indicators may be seen as part of a general global trend responding to demands for accountability, transparency and control over policy processes, a trend labelled audit society or audit cultures.