The ‘Europeanisation’ of labour law – can comparative law solve the problem?

Zahn, Rebecca (2010) The ‘Europeanisation’ of labour law – can comparative law solve the problem? Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 61 (1). pp. 79-92. ISSN 0029-3105

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    Abstract

    The debate surrounding the nature of “Europeanisation” has been raging in the EU for a number of years. It raises a variety of issues regarding the impact of the EU and its effects on the domestic politics and institutions of member states. In terms of labour law, the EU has, over the years, attempted to Europeanise national labour law systems directly and indirectly by introducing measures under the banner of “European labour law”. However, there has always been a debate on the success of such measures as well as on the existence of a category of European labour law. This paper examines the debate surrounding the Europeanisation of the German and UK labour law systems. Germany and the UK have been chosen as focal points as their different labour law systems illustrate the wide spectrum of national systems of regulation that European labour law must take into account in order to achieve some measure of harmonisation. The paper therefore suggests criteria for testing the success which measures of European labour law have attained in attempting to Europeanise the national labour law systems. These criteria are borrowed from the sphere of comparative labour law. In doing so, firstly, the debate on the Europeanisation of national legal systems is expounded, with specific attention being paid to the sphere of labour law. Secondly, in order to illustrate the problems surrounding Europeanisation, a number of examples are set out. These examples demonstrate circumstances in which the Europeanisation of labour law has been successful or, as the case may be, unsuccessful. Finally, a framework is set out within which to test the success of a measure of European labour law and criteria are also suggested which measures of European labour law need to fulfil in order to successfully Europeanise national systems of labour law.