EU Law as Janus Bifrons: A Sociological Approach to 'Social Europe'

European Integration Online Papers, Vol. 16, No. 1, Article 2, 2011

25 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2012  

Jean-Claude Barbier

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Sciences Juridiques & Science Politique

Fabrice Colomb

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Sciences Juridiques & Science Politique

Date Written: February 15, 2012

Abstract

On the basis of sociological research focused on actions and appreciations of “social policy” actors, this paper contends that, apart from the powerful constraint of macroeconomic governance, the main governance instrument has been hard law, even in an area where member states are deemed to have retained most of their jurisdiction (Leibfried and Pierson, 1995, Ferrera, 2005; Barbier, 2008). The sociological material is systematically cross-checked with legal literature and with material drawn from 26 EU law specialists. The authors focus on the relationship between EU law and “social law” (social protection, labor law and social services). The main finding is the confirmation of the jeopardization of systems of social protection in the “old member states”. On the other hand, though, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Commission have been able to display continual advances on the subject of “fundamental rights”, thus producing key sources of legitimacy among various actors. With the classically documented support of big business and corporations, and the active support of non-governmental organizations in favor of expanding individual fundamental rights, the on-going dynamics of EU law seems to inexorably lead to the demise of the late 19th century born systems of social protection, as F. Scharpf argues. This deterministic analysis however does not take into account the current uncertainties about the role of actors.

Keywords: sociology, europeanization, governance, negative integration, legitimacy, lobbying, policy networks, welfare state, economic law, provision of services, EU social policy, Social Charter

Suggested Citation

Barbier, Jean-Claude and Colomb, Fabrice, EU Law as Janus Bifrons: A Sociological Approach to 'Social Europe' (February 15, 2012). European Integration Online Papers, Vol. 16, No. 1, Article 2, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2006402

Jean-Claude Barbier (Contact Author)

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Sciences Juridiques & Science Politique ( email )

France

Fabrice Colomb

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Sciences Juridiques & Science Politique ( email )

France

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