EU Labour Law

EU Labour Law

Elgar European Law series

A. C.L. Davies

The book explores the subject’s major policy themes, examines the various procedures by which EU labour law is made, and analyses key topics such as worker migration, equality, working time and procedures for workers’ participation in employers’ decision-making. It sets the legal materials in their policy context and identifies the important issues which have shaped the development of EU labour law and are likely to determine its future, including the economic crisis and the debate about fundamental rights in the EU.

Chapter 3: Worker Migration and Market Integration

A. C.L. Davies

Subjects: law - academic, european law


The founding purpose of the EU was the creation of a common market in which barriers to trade between Member States were progressively removed. Firms would be able to market their goods and services in any Member State, thereby enhancing competition and giving consumers access to lower-priced products. An elaborate body of legislation and case-law on ‘free movement’ has developed in the process. Free movement has significant implications for working people. Workers have a right to move freely from one Member State to another in order to take up a job offer or to seek work. Self-employed individuals have similar rights under the rules governing freedom of establishment, which allow people to move from one Member State to another in order to set up a business.1 But a ‘free market’ for labour within the EU cannot simply be established by removing barriers to migration. Since (as the ILO has long acknowledged) workers are not a ‘commodity’,2 they may be unwilling to move unless their broader concerns are addressed. For example, they may want to be able to travel with their families or to put down roots in the host state. An elaborate body of rules has developed to address these issues. We will consider these rules in the first part of this chapter. Of course, all of this takes us a long way away from traditional understandings of labour law as the law governing relationships between workers and their employers. However, as we saw in Chapter 1, EU labour...

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