EU social rights/ internal market law


“Compatibility of social and labour rights recognised in EU legislation with European internal market and competition law”

A team of academics from the University of Leeds and Queen’s University Belfast along with international partners from across four EU Member States are investigating tensions within the EU’s legal framework between on the one hand social and labour rights and on the other internal market law (comprising economic freedoms and competition rules).

This nine-month contract is worth 118,000 € and was awarded via a Multiple Framework Services Contract with the European Parliament’s Research Department for the provision of expertise on regulatory and policy issues in the field of social policy and social protection to the EP’s committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The study began in September 2014 and is due to report findings in May 2015.

The study is designed to:

  • Identify tensions between EU social and labour rights and the hard law of the EU internal market;
  • Give a systematic overview of how such conflicts have been reconciled
  • Suggest policy recommendations to the most relevant actors, including the European Parliament, based on the identified common trends.

It takes as its starting point those social and labour rights (set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU) that have been the subject matter of the most contentious judicial (and policy) developments in recent years namely:

  • Rights related to industrial democracy and collective bargaining (Articles 12, 27 and 28)
  • Right to fair and just working conditions (Article 31)
  • Rights to social security and social assistance (Article 34)

And explores tensions with the EU’s internal market and competition law.

The research combines legal analysis with comparative empirical research and is conducted around the following phases:

  1. Mapping the relevant legal frame
  2. Identifying clashes and conflict at EU and national levels
  3. Identifying responses to those conflicts at national and EU levels
  4. Developing policy responses

The team
The project team is based at the University of Leeds in the Centre of Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC, Faculty of Business) and the Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities(CIRCLE, School of Sociology and Social Policy) as well as the School of Law. The team is led by Professor Dagmar Schiek, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. A network of international partners contribute to the comparative, empirical aspects of the study.

The principal investigator
Professor Dagmar Schiek (Queen’s University Belfast)

The multi-disciplinary team at the University of Leeds 
Professor Chris Forde - Professor of Employment Studies and deputy director of CERIC
Dr Andrea Wigfield - Associate Professor of Social Policy, Director of Care Connect, and Deputy Director of CIRCLE
Dr Liz Oliver - lecturer in employment law at CERIC
Dr Gabriella Alberti - Lecturer in employment relations at CERIC
Dr Pinar Akman  - Associate Professor in law, deputy director of Centre for Business Law and Practice
Dr Peter Whelan - Associate Professor in law, deputy director of Centre for Criminal Justice Studies

The international partners 
Prof Niklas Bruun and Dr Kerstin Ahlberg -  ReMarkLab project, University of Stockholm
Prof Julia Lopez and Prof Consuelo Chacartegui Jávega - GRETDISS, University Pompeo Fabra, Barcelona
Prof Michael DohertyNational University of Ireland, Maynooth
Dr Joanna Unterschütz - Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Law and Social Security at the University of Business and Administration in Gdynia, Poland.