The Sustainability of the European Social Model
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The Sustainability of the European Social Model

EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe

Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

This book argues that the European Social Model can only be sustained in the current economic crisis if social and employment policies are adequately recognised as integral parts of European economic policy-making. The contributing authors investigate this hypothesis through comparative evaluations of interactions of EU economic governance with national systems of social protection. In particular they focus on two key policy areas – social services of general interest and the regulation of working time – as well as covering areas such as social inclusion, active ageing policies and job quality. By combining sociological approaches with legal analyses, the book provides unique insights and evaluation of EU methods of governance.
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Chapter 8: The unexpected consequences of the application of the EU Working Time Directive in France

Fabrice Colomb


The chapter addresses the question of the extent of the impact of EU law on French law, and vice versa, for a specific area of law, that is, the regulation of working time. We have to understand how the existing French national legal order accommodated the EU Working Time Directive in the early 2000s. In order to achieve this, we put aside any mechanistic model of the dissemination of EU legal norms into the national legal orders in Member States. Taking into account the role of political and cultural-political logics, we analyse the role of social actors in the dynamic of dissemination of new norms. Undoubtedly EU law introduces new references that become internalised in the French national legal system, yet national characteristics endure. This leads to the fact that French political constraints as well as specific demands for legitimation combine and give way to unexpected effects in the evolution of French law, but also in the adaptation of EU law.

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