The EU, Competition Law and Workers’ Rights

30 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2021

See all articles by Nicola Countouris

Nicola Countouris

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Valerio De Stefano

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Ioannis Lianos

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: March 25, 2021

Abstract

The paper delves into the ways in which EU competition law affects the right of workers to combine with each other and act, collectively, in the furtherance of their rights and interests at work, in particular by means of collective agreements concluded with one or more employers. It begins by opposing the limited ‘labour exemption’ contained in the recent competition caselaw and contrasts that with a more traditional ‘labour law’ approach, that would typically see collective bargaining as a fundamental, and universal, labour rights to be enjoyed by all workers, or in the alternative will have to integrate the asymmetry of bargaining power between labour and digital monopsonies. We put forward a more nuanced and balanced approach, by reference to the concept of ‘predominantly personal work’, that could act as the new watershed concept around which labour rights and competition law could define their respective fields of operation and which may already inspire the recent Commission’s proposals enabling self-employed without employees (“solo self-employed”) to access the right to bargain collectively on a number of issues with digital platforms.

Keywords: labour exception, solo self -employed, competition law, digital platforms

JEL Classification: J5, J83, K21, K31, L1

Suggested Citation

Countouris, Nicola and De Stefano, Valerio and Lianos, Ioannis, The EU, Competition Law and Workers’ Rights (March 25, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3812153 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3812153

Nicola Countouris

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens
London, WC1E OEG
United Kingdom

Valerio De Stefano

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Ioannis Lianos (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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