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Iain Begg

Sustainable development is an elusive concept that encompasses the macroeconomic and the social, as well as the environmental. It has become a defining principle of European socio-economic development, but is also beset by many uncertainties which bear on how it is interpreted in governance terms. This chapter reviews the governance of sustainable development in the EU in the light of the many uncertainties and conceptual ambiguities that surround policy-making in this area. Although sustainability offers an appealing conceptual framework for the socio-economic development of the EU, a key conclusion of the chapter is that it struggles to provide clear directions for decision-making. Nevertheless, it will remain important as a norm for the EU’s future development.

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Miriam Hartlapp

Nation states keep a firm grip on old age policies; they may be considered among the least likely issues to be dealt with at the supranational level. Yet, a number of community policies directly and indirectly exert influence on national old age policies. While the political science literature primarily focuses on the Open Method of Coordination on pensions, the chapter shows that these instruments are older, wider and more influential. Employing a policy analysis perspective, the chapter asks: When and how did these instruments develop? What are their (potential) effects? On this basis it is shown that the governance capacity of soft steering instruments, seeking to trigger reforms in the area of pensions, is typically overvalued. In contrast we tend to underestimate how much the EU forms national room to manoeuvre on ageing and old age security through legislative instruments establishing individual rights for equal treatment or through the free movement of capital and persons. The analysis draws on a number of case studies on different policy instruments and is based on 26 interviews, and primary and secondary document analysis.

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Tomáš Sirovátka

The impact of EU labour law on the Czech system of labour law with particular reference to the case of the EU Working Time Directive (WTD) is analysed. The question in focus is whether the transposition and implementation of the EU directive into the national labour law has provided workers with more certainty or not. The structure of the chapter is as follows: first, the Czech approach to the transposition and implementation of EU law is explained. Next, the author analyses how WTD was transposed and implemented. Then, the political debate over the directive in the Czech Republic is examined. Lastly, the findings are discussed in a broader societal and political context. The findings show that although EU labour legislation was transposed promptly due to accession to the EU in 2004, its impact was hardly visible in practice in consequence of the generally low level of legal awareness, low respect for legislation and neglect of labour law in practice. There was little (or insufficient) intervention from the bodies responsible for enforcement, due to inappropriate institutional means and lack of political commitment. Two circumstances contribute to a legislative uncertainty associated with the regulations of the EU Working Time Directive. The first is the problem of the inconsistent position of EU bodies such as the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission and European Court of Justice concerning the directive. Secondly, in the case of the Czech Republic, the general political direction concerning labour law is a strong tendency towards flexibilisation, as expressed in the political programmes of the centre-right governments since 2006. This trend also facilitated the rapid development of practices to circumvent legislation. Because these practices are widespread, the actors involved do not need to seek the support of the ECJ in order to oppose labour law legislation. A major problem of the EU Working Time Directive is that there are serious failures in its implementation and enforcement. These problems are particularly pertinent with respect to overtime work, on-call time regulations, and combined working time of a first and a second labour contract.

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Paul Marginson and Maarten Keune

Almost 20 years ago the Maastricht Treaty introduced procedures for European social dialogue, as part of a larger package of measures to strengthen the social dimension of European integration. The European social partners received the competence to become, in principle, co-regulators of the European labour market. The conventional reading of the evolution of European social dialogue since its inception is that it has evolved from a relationship of dependency of the European social partners on the European institutions for the implementation of their framework agreements, towards a more autonomous position in which the social partners have opted to focus on autonomous framework agreements and other ‘new generation texts’, including joint reports, recommendations, compendia of good practice, and so on, which are not directed at the European institutions in order to secure implementation. In this chapter we want to challenge and move beyond this rather linear and one-dimensional conceptualisation of the evolution of European social dialogue. Empirically, we will show that there has not been a straightforward move away from the ‘implementation through Directive’ mode in favour of autonomous agreements. Analytically, we will argue that framing the issue in terms of dependency or autonomy does not do justice to the complexity of relationships that are involved in the European social dialogue and the European sector social dialogue, and in the implementation of framework agreements and other new generation texts. Also it accords little attention to the role of power in the relationships involved. We draw on a multi-governance perspective to analyse the dynamics of European social dialogue, which allows us to capture the relevant multiple horizontal and vertical relationships, or interdependencies, between the European and national, and public and private, actors involved. Interdependency implies the presence of both autonomy and dependence in a relationship, and our central proposition is that these interdependencies simultaneously enhance and limit the capacity of the European social partners to make and implement agreements.

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Els Sol and Nuria Ramos Martín

This chapter deals with the challenges that European law poses for national legislation and practices regarding working time. The regulation of working time is situated at the crossroads of health and safety regulations and employment protection. The European Union has acknowledged the need to regulate and limit working time in the Working Time Directive (WTD); Directive 2003/88/EC. This chapter examines the major topics of discussion concerning issues related to the implementation of the WTD in the Netherlands, notably annualised hours, flexible hours, the individual opt-out, on-call work and shift work. In the Netherlands trade unions consider that the Directive has been transposed into national law in a way which has reduced the level of protection previously available. However, our research has led to the conclusion that the implementation in the Netherlands is flexible because collective agreements are playing an important role in implementing the Working Time Directive in this country. Despite some problems, the implementation of the WTD in the Netherlands has not been controversial. However, some discrepancies between EU law and domestic definitions of the crucial concept of working time do persist which can lead to further litigation, especially in the case of on-call work. In general terms, the implementation of the WTD has left the main problem relating to working time in the Netherlands, its ‘successful’ part-time model, untouched.

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Aristea Koukiadaki

The level of autonomy afforded to Member States to define certain services as 'services of general interest' and to shelter them from the market so as to promote social objectives has become in recent years a highly sensitive topic among EU and national policy actors and organisations. The increased activity in this area of the European Commission and the general absence of guidance on the conditions necessary to render such services of general interest by the European Court of Justice have resulted in uncertainty concerning the interaction of EU law with public services in the EU Member States. By focusing on the EU regulation on social services of general interest, the chapter evaluates how the nature and provision of such services in the UK have been susceptible to changes as a result of the Services Directives, EU public procurement and competition law. The implementation of privatisation plans in the UK well before any EU initiatives in this area meant that such services have been open to market forces well before other Member States. However, this has not led to the absence of concerns regarding the precise impact of EU law in this area. Recent policy initiatives by the Coalition government may expand further the degree of marketisation and increase the scope for interaction between EU and national-level regulation.

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Ralf Rogowski

The chapter contains an analysis of the implementation of the EU Working Time Directive (WTD) in the United Kingdom. It analyses specific enforcement problems in the context of the general approach to implementation of EU law in the UK and outlines the main implementation measure, the Working Time Regulations of 1998. The UK approach in implementing the WTD is described as a mixture of fundamental ideological opposition combined with a technocratic attitude in applying EU law. Of particular importance has been the debate about problems the WTD allegedly poses to the National Health Service and the use of individual opt-out, which had a significant influence on the application of the WTD in practice. However, the WTD has also contributed to an incremental change in working time regulations and it had a major impact on the caseload of the Employment Tribunals. In 2011 almost a third of all cases were so-called WTD claims.

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Christine Erhel, Jérôme Gautié and Bernard Gazier

The European Employment Strategy is a key pillar of risk management at the European level. The ‘job quality’ agenda is a good illustration of the construction of an important component of the European Employment Strategy, in terms of its conception and implementation. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the evolution of this agenda. It shows that the process around job quality is characterised by strong hesitations at the European level, but also by a semi-autonomous process, which can be described as a bottom-up, deepening of the issue. The hesitations at the European level can be understood as the result of competing agendas – the ‘flexibilisation’ agenda promoted by the OECD and the IMF, and the ‘Decent Work’ agenda promoted by the ILO. Job quality has also been a fluctuating priority for social partners. But some actors at different levels seem to have committed themselves to a deepening process, as illustrated by some initiatives taken at national or regional level.

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Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

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Jean-Claude Barbier and Fabrice Colomb

On the basis of sociological research focused on actions and appreciations of ‘social policy’ actors, this chapter contends that, apart from the powerful constraint of macroeconomic governance, the main governance instrument has been hard law, even in an area where member states are deemed to have retained most of their jurisdiction. The sociological material is systematically cross-checked with legal literature and with material drawn from 26 EU law specialists’ interviews. The authors focus on the relationship between EU law and ‘social law’ (social protection, labour law and social services). The main finding is the confirmation of the jeopardisation of systems of social protection in the ‘old member states’. On the other hand, though, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Commission have been able to display continual advances on the subject of ‘fundamental rights’, thus producing key sources of legitimacy among various actors. With the classically documented support of big business and corporations, and the active support of NGOs in favour of expanding individual fundamental rights, the on-going dynamics of EU law seem to lead inexorably to the demise of the late 19th century-born systems of social protection, as F. Scharpf argues. This deterministic analysis, however, does not take into account the current uncertainties about the role of actors.