Social dialogue, laval-style

Asteriti, A. (2013) Social dialogue, laval-style. European Journal of Legal Studies, 5(2), pp. 58-79.

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<p>Ever since the European Court of Justice delivered its Laval judgment on 18 December 2007, the name of this small Latvian company has become notorious. The sole mention of ‘Viking and Laval’ has become short-hand for those critical of a certain idea of Europe giving primacy to economic considerations to the detriment of ‘social Europe’. This article intends to go back to the original Laval judgment to reconstruct its history and deconstruct its myth.</p> <p>The Viking and Laval judgments have been criticized for using freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services respectively as ‘trumps’ against the fundamental right of freedom of association and collective action . What protection for the right to strike after what the Court decided, one was inclined to ask? Were we going to see social dumping become the norm, a race to the bottom that would see Eastern European workers compete against their Western counterparts by offering their low labour cost as their best asset? These are crucial questions and they have justly been discussed extensively elsewhere. This article considers the Laval judgment, and explores a different angle, by taking as its starting point Habermas’ theory of discursive practices as guarantees for a democratic outcome and offering the Swedish system of collective agreements as a substantiation of such practices. In this context, the article argues, the comprehensive dismissal by the Court of the carefully constructed and balanced system of social dialogue between management and labour is truly the most disturbing aspect of this controversial judgment. For all the supposed importance placed on discursive practices and social dialogue for the European social model, when confronted with a successful example of such model, the Court retreated in the familiar territory of hard law and statutory obligations. In doing so, it willfully misunderstood the function of collective bargaining, by effectively decoupling its process from its function, and leaving social dialogue with the hollow role of a deliberative practice devoid of any finality, the very openness of which both signifies and nullifies its democratic credentials.,</p>

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Asteriti, Dr Alessandra
Authors: Asteriti, A.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
K Law > K Law (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:European Journal of Legal Studies
Journal Abbr.:EJLS
Publisher:European University Institute
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 European Journal of Legal Studies
First Published:First published in European Journal of Legal Studies 5(2):58-79
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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