European Union and Labour’s Legal Resources in Central and East European Countries
This article investigates the influence of the European Union (EU) on legal resources available to labour to tackle labour market challenges in central and east European countries after their accession to the EU in 2004 and 2007. Its conclusion is that the EU’s impact has been complex and contradictory, with differences between countries and time periods. It has to varying degrees encouraged social partnership and supported a model of employment relations giving high levels of legal and collective protection to employees. Since 2008, the EU has advocated reductions in protection for employees on standard contracts and a very substantial reduction in collective bargaining coverage in one case, only partially balanced by advocacy for improving the lot of those on less secure employment relationships. The EU agenda has in practice been largely irrelevant to the widespread informalization and casualization of employment relations in the region.