Professor Pinar Akman and Dr Peter Whelan contribute to a European Parliament Report on Social and Labour Rights

Professor Akman and Dr Whelan provided competition law expertise on a project examining potential conflicts between EU social and labour rights and the hard law of the EU internal market.

The research contract underpinning the project was awarded in September 2014 and aimed to develop policy recommendations on reconciling potential conflicts between EU social and labour rights and the hard law of the EU internal market. The project brought together academics from Ireland, Poland, Spain, the UK and Sweden and offered a comparative perspective. The contract, which was worth €118,000, was awarded under a Multiple Framework Services Contract with the European Parliament’s Research Department for the provision of expertise on regulatory and policy issues in the field of social policy and social protection to the EP’s committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The report, entitled ‘EU Social and Labour Rights and EU Internal Market Law’, was written by Professor Dagmar SCHIEK, (Queen’s University Belfast) and Dr Liz Oliver, Professor Christopher Forde, Dr Gabriella Alberti (all at University of Leeds), with country reports authored by Professor Michael Doherty (University of Maynooth), Dr Joanna Unterschütz (University of Business Administration, Gdynia), Professor Consuelo Chacartegui Jávega, Professor Julia Lopez Lopez (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, GRETDISS) and Dr Kerstin Ahlberg, Professor Niklas Bruun (University of Stockholm, REMARKLAB).

Professor Akman and Dr Whelan (School of Law, University of Leeds) are both named contributors to the report. Together they provided relevant competition law advice that was integrated into the report.

Abstract of the report: 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.

For access to the full report, please click here.