Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
Chapter 4: European Labour Standards’ Impacts on Accession Countries: The Hungarian Case
László Neumann INTRODUCTION Immediately after the accession of the Central Eastern European Countries (CEECs) to the European Union, at a conference held in Prague on the impact of German-owned subsidiaries on CEECs, a German colleague asked the Czech deputy Minister of Labour what his understanding of the ‘European Social Model’ was. The unequivocal answer was that the Czech Republic had adapted the whole acquis communautaire including the directives on employment and social policy issues and consequently it had already met all of the European requirements. Certainly some sort of formal ‘Europeanization’ of labour laws and institutions had taken place in the course of preparing for accession and the above view also prevails among many politicians of other new Member States. In contrast with this rosy evaluation, a growing bulk of western literature reflects a deep concern about labour relations in the CEECs. Western ‘stakeholders’ in the enlargement have been fearing a ‘Trojan horse’ of deregulation and ‘Americanization’ coming from the East for a long time (Meardi 2002). Others argue that the enlargement of the EU puts the European Social Model in serious jeopardy (Vaughan-Whitehead 2003). The views of experts on the impact of the formal transposition of the acquis communautaire on the reality in the CEECs are fairly sceptical and they consider the gap between the law in the statutes and the law in action to be worrisome. For instance, according to Mária Ladó and Daniel VaughanWhitehead: ‘The low coverage of collective bargaining, combined with the insufficient development...
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