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European Union Labour Laws

Although the European Union (EU) has been highlighted as the most advanced system of regional integration of labor (Craig Lynk 2006, p 20), it has not escaped criticism in regard to a plethora of issues concerning workers in the Member States. For instance, Craig and Lynk (2006) identified the addition of ten states (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Poland, Hungary, and Latvia) in 2004 into the EU membership as one of the challenges facing the bloc. The same authors noted that the enlarged membership finds difficulties in harmonizing policies in the entire EU region. In addition to the problem harmonization, some regions in the bloc (Central and Eastern states) have been noted to have generally more favorable laws than other regions (Craig Lynk 2006, p 22).In spite of the difficulties, the EU legal framework has been praised for its tendency to intervene in domestic labor relations in the Union’s Member States. For instance, Bermann and Pistor (2004)2 argued that the European Social Charter (ESC) is of major importance in itself as a benchmark against which other global standards and supervisory arrangements in the field of law have been judged (p 156). Nevertheless, the ESC has not been successful in achieving the objectives anticipated by citizens of the EU’s member countries.Craig and Lynk (2006) noted that the EU Member States from Central and Eastern Europe historically had industrial relations tailored in a manner to react to the legacy of communism, thus they tended to display excessive neo-liberalism. Consequently, collective organizations representing workers and employers in these countries are considered rare in the private sector (Craig Lynk 2006, p 23). Ultimately, many private companies in central and eastern Europe are able to process contracts without allegiance to the labor laws. This is definitely a weakness in the purview of a large integration union like the EU.

European Union Labour Laws