Chapter 9: Postscript
EU labour law is constantly changing and, however immersed you might be in the subject, there is always the potential for a surprise. It is no exaggeration to say that the much-debated Viking and Laval cases transformed the subject’s landscape. So with the caveat that predicting the future is a dangerous game, I want to conclude this book by revisiting some of the themes from Chapters 1 and 2 and considering the prospects for the immediate future. We saw in Chapter 1 that the justifications for EU labour law have shifted over time. At present, there is a particular focus on the competitiveness of the EU in a globalised world economy. This concern has been enhanced by the economic crisis and worries about the stability of the euro. This focus manifests itself through Commission policy documents on flexicurity, talk of ‘modernising the European Social Model’, and the ‘regulating for competitiveness’ argument. This agenda – like similar ‘third way’ agendas at national level – is ambiguous in important ways about the role of labour law. On one hand, it is not explicitly hostile towards labour law. For example, the ‘regulating for competitiveness’ agenda is concerned with identifying and promoting the economic benefits of regulated labour markets. On the other hand, some aspects of labour law do not seem to fit very easily into the policy prescriptions. For example, under flexicurity the shift of focus from job security (keeping people in a job) to employment security (keeping people employed in some job or other)...
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