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Before and After the Economic Crisis

Before and After the Economic Crisis

What Implications for the ‘European Social Model’?

Edited by Marie-Ange Moreau

This timely book casts new light on the key issues arising from the contentious debate around the future of the European Social Model. The book brings together leading experts to provide a thorough and well-informed response to the recent developments in European social and labour law and policy, in the light of institutional changes. The contributors provide unique insights as they evaluate the impact of the enlargement processes, the implications of the Lisbon treaty, the integration of the Charter into EU law – and, crucially, the consequences of the economic crisis.

Chapter 13: Toward a De-fundamentalisation of Collective Labour Rights in European Social Law?

Antonio Lo Faro

Subjects: law - academic, european law, labour, employment law, law and society, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


Antonio Lo Faro INTRODUCTION A sort of double antithesis is emerging within the juridical representation of Europe. Social rights v. Economic freedoms is the first; Individual employment rights v. Collective labour rights is the second. Whereas many comments have been devoted to the former, scarce attention has been given to the latter. Though, a certain degradation of collective labour rights is precisely one of the main side-effects of the new ‘post-enlargement’ jurisprudence steadily put forward by the European Court in cases such as Laval, Viking and Rüffert. A streak of cases which seems to be further prolonged by the recent Germany case,1 an infringement procedure – addressed to a German law allowing to award service contracts related to occupational pensions to bodies designated by collective agreements – which the Court decided according to the statement that ‘the exercise of the fundamental right to bargain collectively must [therefore] be reconciled with the requirements stemming from the freedoms protected by the FEU Treaty’. Most probably, it was not by mere chance that the lesser status of social rights vis-à-vis economic freedoms has been stated by the Court precisely in cases where a collective aspect of the labour relations was at stake: the right to strike in the two ‘Nordic’ cases; the right to collective bargaining 1 Case C-271/08 of 15 July 2010, European Commission v. Federal Republic of Germany. Having recalled that ‘the terms of collective agreements are not excluded from the scope of the provisions on freedom of movement’ and...

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