Evolution And Impact Of European Union Eu Policy

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The Evolution And Impact Of European Union [EU] Policy And Legislation On The Regulation Of Employment Relationships In Member States

The Evolution and Impact of European Union [EU] Policy and Legislation on the Regulation of Employment Relationships in Member States


The European Union (EU) has significantly extended its activities in the area of social policy since the Single European Act was agreed in 1987 (Leibfried and Pierson, 1995; Ginsburg, 1996). However, the Member States have been unwilling to surrender sovereignty in traditional social policy areas such as education, health care, housing and in the provision of social security benefits. The large differences in social conditions and the diverse ideological and cultural attitudes towards social issues that prevails across the Member States have also made it very difficult for the EU to play an active role in the traditional areas of social policy. Moreover, the budget is small relative to the size of the economy of the EU and the majority of the budget is used to finance the common agricultural policy and the structural funds. These political, cultural and budgetary constraints limit the ability of the EU to be a significant force in many of the normal areas of social policy. The EU, however, has the power to make law, consequently, the social policy of the Union has been geared towards social regulation of employment relationships (Majone, 1993).

The literature on how the development of the social policy of the EU has affected employment relationships has been concentrated on specific issues such as the development of the European Works Council directive (Weston and Lucio, 1998; Ramsey, 1997), the posting of workers directive (Drucker and Dupré, 1998), and equal opportunities (Mazey, 1995). Debate has also taken place on general issues such as the position of the UK in the development of the social dimension (Lange, 1993) and on the wisdom of expanding the social dimension (Addison and Siebert, 1992; Begg and Nectoux, 1995). There is also a tendency, among some academics, to view the development of social regulation in the EU as an inadequate response to the powerful competitive forces that are being unleashed by European integration and by the growing internationalisation of business activities (Barnard and Deakin, 1997). However, the employment-related policies of the EU have led to significant developments in employment relationships by promoting action to combat unemployment, discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, religion and sex. Moreover, EU legislation to provide minimum employment rights have led to substantial changes to national employment law.

This paper provides an analysis of the main factors involved in the development, implementation and enforcement of EU legislation and policies that affect employment relationships. The analysis is used to identify the key institutions that are involved in the drafting, approval and implementation of EU policies and laws that affect employment relationships. The differential impact of EU laws and policies on organisations arising from differences in national institutional and cultural frameworks is also ...
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