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The European social dialogue in the shadow of hierarchy

Smismans, Stijn ORCID: 2008. The European social dialogue in the shadow of hierarchy. Journal of Public Policy 28 (1) , pp. 161-180. 10.1017/S0143814X08000822

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The European social dialogue provides for the signing of collective agreements between employers’ associations and trade unions organised at the European level. Effectiveness to a great extent depends on the shadow of hierarchy, which is cast by the threat of legislative action and by ensuring implementation of collective agreements through public intervention. The need for the shadow is illustrated by the initial priority given to statutory agreements and the problems of implementation of more recent non-statutory agreements. While the shadow of hierarchy is important to ensure the effectiveness of social dialogue, social dialogue procedures are not characterised by strong principal-agent relationships. In particular, non-statutory agreements stem from a bottom-up private sector-inspired tradition of industrial relations. Even in the case of statutory agreements, the European Commission, as principal, does not appoint the agent and the delegation is implicit rather than explicit. Moreover, successful delegation entirely depends on whether the agents reach agreement between themselves. While the Commission could revoke delegation if Community objectives are not realised and by setting statutory criteria for implementing an agreement, its room for manoeuvre is limited for reasons of political pragmatism.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0143-814X
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 22:51

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