Industrial Relations in the New Europe

Industrial Relations in the New Europe

Enlargement, Integration and Reform

Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma

This book presents an evidence-based assessment of the impact of EU enlargement on industrial relations and social standards in old and new EU Member States. It combines chapters which give an overview of the process of enlargement/integration and comparative socio-economic data at EU and national level, with chapters that present an in-depth analysis of the impact of European integration on national industrial relations. These in-depth analyses cover both a number of old EU Member States in Western Europe and new Member States in Central and Eastern Europe. The book combines supranational European, Western and Eastern perspectives on the impact of European integration.

Chapter 2: European Convergence and the EU Social Model

Kees Vos

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Kees Vos INTRODUCTION The process of European integration had from the start primarily an economic dimension, with the main aim of the establishment of a common market. During the 1950s and 1960s economic integration was the main policy objective, while keeping social policy firmly national. As far as harmonization of national social legislation took place, it had mainly to do with the fear of unfair competition. Discrepancies of workers’ safety and health protection and of payment of women had been identified as factors that could distort competition between Member States (Chassard 2002). Community social action was restricted to the co-ordination of social security schemes in order to ensure the rights of migrant workers. Since the 1980s more emphasis has been given to the development of a social dimension and the development of a social policy at European level. Although many policy initiatives with regard to the social dimension developed in the 1980s, it was a very gradual development. During the 1990s, changes in the Treaty and new policy developments implied more fundamental changes in European policymaking. It is almost needless to say that the social dimension did not take precedence over the economic dimension. On the other hand, it is also clear that the notion of a European social model has gained more substance since then and the need to develop and implement such a model has been a topic for debate. The first question to be answered in this chapter is whether Europeanization of industrial relations, as it has...

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