EU Social and Labour Rights and EU Internal Market Law

24-09-2015

EU Social and Labour Rights have developed incrementally, originally through a set of legislative initiatives creating selective employment rights, followed by a non-binding Charter of Social Rights. Only in 2009, social and labour rights became legally binding through the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union (CFREU). By contrast, the EU Internal Market - an area without frontiers where goods, persons, services and capital can circulate freely – has been enshrined in legally enforceable Treaty provisions from 1958. These comprise the economic freedoms guaranteeing said free circulation and a system ensuring that competition is not distorted within the Internal Market (Protocol 27 to the Treaty of Lisbon). Tensions between Internal Market law and social and labour rights have been observed in analyses of EU case law and legislation. This report, provided by Policy Department A to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, explores responses by socio-economic and political actors at national and EU levels to such tensions. On the basis of the current Treaties and the CFREU, the constitutionally conditioned Internal Market emerges as a way to overcome the perception that social and labour rights limit Internal Market law. On this basis, alternative responses to perceived tensions are proposed, focused on posting of workers, furthering fair employment conditions through public procurement and enabling effective collective bargaining and industrial action in the Internal Market.

EU Social and Labour Rights have developed incrementally, originally through a set of legislative initiatives creating selective employment rights, followed by a non-binding Charter of Social Rights. Only in 2009, social and labour rights became legally binding through the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union (CFREU). By contrast, the EU Internal Market - an area without frontiers where goods, persons, services and capital can circulate freely – has been enshrined in legally enforceable Treaty provisions from 1958. These comprise the economic freedoms guaranteeing said free circulation and a system ensuring that competition is not distorted within the Internal Market (Protocol 27 to the Treaty of Lisbon). Tensions between Internal Market law and social and labour rights have been observed in analyses of EU case law and legislation. This report, provided by Policy Department A to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, explores responses by socio-economic and political actors at national and EU levels to such tensions. On the basis of the current Treaties and the CFREU, the constitutionally conditioned Internal Market emerges as a way to overcome the perception that social and labour rights limit Internal Market law. On this basis, alternative responses to perceived tensions are proposed, focused on posting of workers, furthering fair employment conditions through public procurement and enabling effective collective bargaining and industrial action in the Internal Market.

External author

Dagmar SCHIEK (Queen’s University Belfast, the UK) ; Liz Oliver, Christopher Forde and Gabriella Alberti (University of Leeds, the UK) ; Michael Doherty (University of Maynooth, Ireland) ; Joanna Unterschütz (University of Business Administration, Gdynia, Poland) ; Consuelo Chacartegui Jávega and Julia Lopez Lopez (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain) ; Kerstin Ahlberg and Niklas Bruun (University of Stockholm, Sweden)