Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Matthew W. Finkin and Guy Mundlak
Chapter 12: European Union labour law and the European Social Model: A critical appraisal
The European Union context of labour law has been a focal point of attention, debate and criticism in legal scholarship for quite a while. Labour law scholarship has been struggling with the notion of the ‘European Social Model’ and the role and position of labour law in the EU context. In current times, characterized by globalisation, agendas for economic competitiveness, financial market volatility and pressures on European welfare systems, the debate has only intensified. In the EU, labour law is deeply rooted in state tradition, national policy, institutional settings and historical pathways. However, after more than half a century of European integration, the autonomy of EU states has severely diminished. It seems to put the integration process, including the European social dimension, at a crossroads. The mutually reinforcing contexts of globalization, the economic and financial crisis and the pressures on welfare states, require a higher relevancy of transnational and regional (European) action. However, due to the specific dynamics in the EU legal and policy order, there seems to be a growing gap between the respective understandings of labour law when EU and member states are offset. On a deeper level, labour law as it has grown and evolved in European states, is under pressure. Academic labour law debate has increasingly become fundamental, questioning boundaries, future and goals or idea of labour law, in European terms often brought under the rubric of ‘modernization' of labour law.
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