The concept of “social dialogue” pervades discussions of labour relations in
Europe. In the estimation of many scholars and policymakers, the concept opens
the way to an entirely new and potentially transformative paradigm in
deliberative democracy. But is the European social dialogue, as it is
currently evolving, in fact contributing to a better balance between
efficiency, equity, and voice—i.e., to a polity of good governance and a more
equitable society? Who are the principals, who are the agents? Are the
outcomes it is achieving to be considered successful, or are they
disappointing? These are some of the questions addressed in this important new
The author, who has extensive experience both in the academic and policy
worlds of labour relations law at the EU level, describes, analyses, and
assesses the European social dialogue from a combined theoretical and
normative perspective. He applies theoretical strands stemming from industrial
relations, EC law, and political theory to an understanding and assessment of
the genesis, actors, processes, and outcomes of the European social dialogue
through 2007, testing some of the leading theories and offering insights as he
proceeds. He then investigates whether Articles 138 and 139 EC seem to
engender good governance—i.e., whether such indicators as openness,
participation, accountability, effectiveness, coherence, democratic
legitimacy, and the contribution of the European social dialogue to a more
subsidiary and proportionate decision-making at EU level are well-served by
the ‘practice’ dimension of the social dialogue. Relevant EU legislation,
European social partners’ agreements and ECJ case law are fully taken into
In its elaboration of an integrated analytical framework for the European
social dialogue, its assessment of whether the European social dialogue
constitutes a polity of good governance and its insightful recommendations for
improvement and further theory building, this book promises to become a
landmark in the evolution of a labour relations theory that is attracting
attention far beyond Europe as a global way forward in one of the most
fundamental proving areas of the democratic polity.
II. The European Social Dialogue under Articles 138 and 139 EC from a
Theoretical and Normative Perspective. A. The European Social Dialogue from a
Multi-disciplinary Theoretical Perspective: A Polity at the Crossroads.
B. The European Social Dialogue from a Normative Perspective: A Form of
III. Actors. 1. European Social Partners. 2.
Representativeness of the European Social Partners. 3. European
Institutions and Bodies. 4. National Social Partners and Governments.
5. Interim Conclusions: Evaluation of the Actors.
IV. Processes. 1. The Evolution of the European Social Dialogue:
From Paris via Val Duchesse to Brussels. 2. European Social Dialogue
under Article 138 EC. 3. European Social Dialogue under Article 139 EC.
4. Judicial Review by the European Court of Justice and Dispute Resolution.
5. Interim Conclusions: Evaluation of the Processes.
V. Outcomes: Successes versus Failures.
VI. Conclusion, Assessment and Recommendations. List of Tables and
Figures. Abbreviations/Acronyms. Country Codes. Bibliography. Index