Collective Labor Rights and the European Social Model

Law and Ethics of Human Rights 3 (2):223-266 (2009)
Abstract
This article explores the tension between competing discourses within the European Union, as this regional trading bloc seeks to capture further gains from market integration, whilst simultaneously attempting to soften the social impact of regional competition within its borders. This article analyzes the difficulty of maintaining the European social model, or a revised version of it, in the context of increased market integration. Through a close reading of two cases decided by the European Court of Justice in 2007, the article interrogates the extent to which discourses on social rights at the EU level can be made sufficiently robust to ensure the application of international or national labor standards as a buttress against increasingly mobile capital, in order to prevent “social dumping." It concludes, however, that the terms on which the foundational texts of the EU integration project operate—elevating “market" rights to equal, fundamental, status with social and labor rights—means that the exercise of social rights such as the right to strike is ultimately contingent on their compatibility with market integration
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