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26th March 2010, 2:12pm
A fresh look at labour law in the new Europe
The European Union The increasingly interlocking effects of globalisation processes and EU enlargement have refocused the debate on the need to strengthen the social dimension of the European Union, a new study reveals.

In her book New Governance and the European Employment Strategy, Dr Samantha Velluti, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Lincoln, UK, considers what is the best way to ensure the implementation and effectiveness of EU labour law, and in particular, employment policy, with a comparative case study on gender equality in the labour market.

The book outlines how the completion of the Internal Market and European Monetary Union made it increasingly difficult to exclude employment and social concerns from the European project. The Europeanization of social law and policy was, however, a spill-over effect, intended to complement rather than replace existing national policies, Dr Velluti explains.

In recent years, the European Union has increasingly relied on ‘New Governance’ measures to manage national variations in social policy and overcome the tensions surrounding EU intervention in the social sphere - whilst attempting to gently coerce member states to tackle labour market regulation in accordance with EU objectives and policies. But, Dr Velluti observes, this process is complicated by several factors: firstly, different countries have different national welfare regimes, varying not just in terms of their economic status, but also in their institutional structures and aspirations. Added to this, there are different understandings of what is meant by ideals such as ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’. The result is that EU regulation of the social sphere has not always proved to be successful in introducing change at national level.

Dr Velluti argues: “While ‘soft law’ may ensure the respect for social pluralism and preserve national sovereignty, it does not ensure compliance because of the lack of sanctions. Therefore, a better solution would seem to be a system of governance that relies on the combination of both hard and soft law instruments.”

New Governance and the European Employment Strategy is published by Routledge and was released on 12 March 2010. It will be of interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students working in European law – specifically EU employment law and gender equality.

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