Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
Chapter 6: Consequences of Enlargement for the Old Periphery of Europe: Observations from the Spanish Experience with European Works Councils
Holm-Detlev Köhler and Sergio Gonzalez Begega INTRODUCTION The accession of eight, former communist, states to the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004, raised new challenges and opportunities affecting the institutions and governance mechanisms of this supranational structure. From the perspective of the European Commission, it has been argued that this enlargement implies the culmination of a successful political and economic project initiated after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. However, as a consequence of the special characteristics of the new Members, this enlargement poses some new and complex questions for the social construction of Europe and, as one of its most prominent elements, for the Europeanization of industrial relations. Experts have offered advice on the difficulties that the political institutions of the EU-25 will surely face. Governance in the enlarged EU will become more complicated as a result of the incorporation of new interests and actors. It is apparent that these difficulties will also spill over into other supranational bodies, in which the political balance between actors coming from different national backgrounds remains a fundamental issue. The role of the European Works Councils (EWCs) has been the most advanced, stable and consolidated attempt in the Europeanization of industrial relations (IR) over the last ten years. However, following enlargement, it is arguable that the incorporation of actors from these eight post-communist economies will mean a fresh start in the life of these bodies. The aim of this contribution is to put forward the Spanish experience with EWCs,...
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