The Social Partners and the Governance Agenda

22 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2002

See all articles by Catherine Barnard

Catherine Barnard

University of Cambridge - Trinity College


Since Maastricht, the EC Treaty and the Community institutions have envisaged a substantial role for the social partners in law and policy making in the EU and at national and subnational level, with a view to helping legitimise and democratise governance in the social policy field. This paper begins by examining the evolving role of the social partners. It then considers why such emphasis has been placed on including the social partners in the governance of the EU and the weaknesses and paradoxes underlying the traditional justifications for their involvement. It then argues that such a negative conclusion may be inevitable when judged against standards developed in the context of the nation state. It concludes by considering whether, in the special circumstances of the European Union, a different approach to assessing legitimacy should be used, based on a more procedural version of democracy, which emphasises participation and deliberation.

Suggested Citation

Barnard, Catherine, The Social Partners and the Governance Agenda. Available at SSRN:

Catherine Barnard (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Trinity College ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom
00 44-1223 - 33 00 33 (Phone)
00 44-1223 - 33 00 55 (Fax)

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