Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
Chapter 3: Work and Employment Conditions in New EU Member States: A Different Reality?
Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead 1, 2 INTRODUCTION No doubt the various EU enlargement processes adopted with Central and Eastern European countries – in May 2004 and again for those joining in 2007 – contribute to explaining why the ‘European Social Model’ has returned to the heart of the policy debates both at EU and individual EU Member State level. The lower economic and social standards in the new EU Member States in particular have led to fears of social dumping – that is of unfair competition based on local practices in a number of social areas. In the recent national policy debates surrounding the referendum on the European Constitution, the opponents to the Treaty clearly used such uncertainties after EU enlargement to highlight the lack of a social Europe and the lack of harmonized employment and working conditions in an enlarged European Union. It is thus a pressing need to clearly identify the realities of working and employment practices in the new EU Member States and how much these diverge from those in the older EU Member States, and especially try to distinguish the changes that have taken place since the recent EU enlargement. A first question is whether working conditions follow similar patterns in all the new EU Member States, and whether they have started to converge significantly towards the standards in the older Members? Alternatively, do we find diverging trends in certain areas? Consequently, we attempt in this chapter to identify any general direction being followed in work and employment conditions in the...
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