The politics of European labour law

Zahn, Rebecca; Cardwell, Paul James and Granger, Marie-Pierre, eds. (2020) The politics of European labour law. In: Research Handbook on the Politics of EU Law. Research Handbooks in Law and Politics . Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, U.K.. ISBN 9781788971270

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Labour law – comprising individual employment laws and the collective regulation of work by trade unions and employers – is inherently political. It not only involves the legal regulation of the work relationship but also broader policy choices about the nature of society and the distribution of resources. As a result, any sophisticated study of the discipline mandates an understanding of both labour law’s legislative content as well as the social, political and economic context within which it has evolved and within which its legislation plays out. ‘European Labour Law’ is no different in this regard. National understandings of twenty-eight labour law systems permeate the politics surrounding the development of a ‘social’ Europe and vice versa. This exchange between law and politics takes place on different levels with national ideas moving across borders, percolating to the EU level, and EU decisions filtering down to the national level. Notwithstanding the general recognition that law and politics go hand in hand in providing an understanding of the development of a social side to European integration, the extent to which scholars of ‘European Labour Law’ have regard to other disciplines is limited. This chapter discusses the shortcomings of this approach and suggests that insights from the EU studies literature on Europeanisation could help labour law scholars to better understand the impact of ‘European Labour Law’ on national labour law systems and, as a result, provide us with valuable future research agendas.