Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
The IREC network was set up on Richard Hyman’s initiative following the first Industrial Relations in Europe Conference (IREC) at the University of Warwick in 1989. Since then, the IREC network has provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and critical debates on work and employment from a European perspective. The Utrecht School of Governance based at Utrecht University had the pleasure to host the 2004 IREC. The School’s interest in governance issues provided an obvious focus when choosing the conference theme: ‘Governance issues in shifting European industrial and employment relations’. However, it was not just the Utrecht School of Governance’s interest that inspired the conference theme: in 2001, the European Commission had published a White Paper on ‘European Governance’ recognizing that social dialogue forms part of the democratic governance of Europe and that social dialogue is crucial in responding adequately to the challenges of economic and social reform and of enlargement. Indeed, the enlargement of the European Union, as of 1 May 2004, led to the accession of ten new Member States, with eight of these originating from Central and Eastern Europe. With this enlargement, the diversity within the European Union increased significantly, particularly in terms of employment conditions and social dialogue arrangements. The enlargement spurred European political interest in governance and in the so-called Open Method of Coordination as a means to deal with this increase in diversity. A parallel surge in research interest in governance issues can be observed. As a result, IREC 2004 at the...