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 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

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

Extract

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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