The origins, development and effects of anti-discrimination regulations in EU labour law

PhD Project

Compared to competences that are clearly assigned to the European Union, employment and social affairs may be less tangible areas of EU law; at the same time, however, they are essential elements of social cohesion within the EU. Although labour law lies within the competence of the member states, large parts of national labour legislation today are affected by European regulations.  A study of labour law is thus able to offer different insights into the actual processes and effects of European legal integration than the existing literature focusing on the EU’s exclusive competences. This PhD project focuses on protection from discrimination in labour law. On the one hand, it explores how the development of anti-discrimination measures was influenced by international and national actors and debates; on the other, it evaluates how the relevant directives have been implemented and what actual effects they have had on the ground.
The existing literature on European labour and social law examines it from a legal perspective, putting it in the context of the broader European development from functional integration to a value-oriented community. In contrast to such approaches, which mainly focus on legal development and interpretation by the ECJ, this project places protection from discrimination in labour law in the socio-political context of two member states, France and Germany, as well as within national and European institutional discourses. On the basis of an analysis of French and German political and civil society debates, the thesis explains what influence member states’ motives, actors and institutions have had on the formation of legal norms and how legal developments on the European level have affected both countries’ public discourses on labour law.

In addition to considering the national level, attention is also paid to the Franco-German border regions, where the free movement of persons has considerably expanded the potential area of activity for both employees and companies. However, in addition to barriers such as required language skills, there still remain also legal and administrative obstacles that have discriminatory effects on access to the labour market for EU foreigners.

The research project is to be understood as part of the debate on European integration through law. It takes into account the reciprocal influence of political and social experiences and expectations on the one hand, and legal developments on the other. The project thus shows to what extent progressive Europeanisation can be observed and by what factors it is affected.

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