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EU Employment Law and the European Social Model: The Past, the Present and the Future

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If the critics are right, the European Union’s (EU’s) social model is dead and that is the end of it. Those on the right may well be dancing on its grave; those more sympathetic might mourn its passing. My view is more sanguine. I shall argue that the European social model is certainly facing unprecedented challenges. However, I will suggest that these challenges, caused in part by the EU’s response to the crisis but more generally resulting from a growing hostility towards the European Union project as a whole, are not terminal and that there is—and should be—a continued role for the European social model. The article therefore considers what is meant by the European social model (ESM) and why the ESM is important. It then examines why the ESM, and its employment dimension in particular, is facing such difficulties before recognizing that, in fact, the EU’s history demonstrates that the ESM has, in fact, a long-standing ability to regenerate and resurrect itself in different guises. Given this regenerative capacity, the article will conclude by considering the form EU social policy might take going forward.



EU Social Model, European Union, ESM, Employment, Labour Law, Labour, Social Policy

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Oxford University Press (OUP)