Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11460
Collective action as a fundamental right in European law. Protecting labour rights in an era of market freedoms
The main topic of the thesis is to look at collective action as a fundamental right within European Union (EU) law. In 2007 and 2008 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave its judgments on four cases, the Laval, Viking, Rüffert and Commission vs. Luxembourg, the so-called Laval quartet. In these cases, the right to take collective action was recognized as a fundamental right in European law, but the ECJ decided that the free movement provisions of establishment and services should prevail. These judgments were highly controversial and according to some commentators the judgments changed the balance between fundamental rights and fundamental economic freedoms. Historically in the EU, there has been tension between the fundamental rights and the fundamental freedoms of the internal market. At first, brief history of the European integration will be given, with emphasis on the development of fundamental rights, social rights and labour rights. The legal context of the EU Treaties and secondary internal market legislation will then be examined. Thereafter the case law of the ECJ in the Laval quartet will be looked at. The cases generated strong responses and many actors, such as trade unions, politicians and academics, participated in the debate. Most of them were very critical towards the ECJ. The responses of the main stakeholders will be examined and the Laval quartet will be analyzed with regards to the main implications it could have for EU law. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has recently given its judgments in a few cases that concern the right to take collective action. Interestingly, the ECHR views cases of this kind from the completely opposite perspective and seems to have more respect for fundamental rights than the ECJ. That could create an interesting dialogue between the two courts. At last the current situation in the EU will be examined and a brief look will be given towards future policy making in the EU. The Commission has been trying to address this issue for some time now and earlier this year a new regulation proposal was published. That proposal has not been well received and some Member States and trade unions have been critical towards it. It is therefore unclear whether there is any solution in sight.