The Europeanisation of Labour Markets in Germany and the Netherlands

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW2.2.04 (Tower Two)
Ines Wagner, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
Lisa Berntsen, University of Tilburg, Tilburg, Netherlands
EU institutions, most importantly the European Commission and The European Court of Justice (ECJ) have been the driver of liberalizing the European labour market. They created a space in which labour mobility often takes the form of temporary movements regulated via the EU framework of services or labour mobility. Contracted via subcontractors or temp agencies labour is getting more and more “externalized” from national institutional settings. Most of the research on the Europeanisation of labour markets looks at the encounter between Europeanization and national institutions systems. We seek to extend this research by looking at what happens when the EU regulatory context of labour and services encounters national regulatory contexts and is appropriated in specific contexts and by various actors. The policy arenas of the EU, its member states, and ground level policy implementation are intertwined, and must be understood together.

We systematically compare the regulatory context for a pan-European labour market between Germany and The Netherlands and its actual appropriation on the micro-level. We focus on the construction sector because in both Germany and the Netherlands it is relatively densely regulated. Based on in-depth interviews with short-term labour migrants, social partners and policy-makers complemented by participant observation and field notes we investigate the regulatory context at exemplary construction sites in the two countries. In particular we focus on certain minimum rights ensured by the EU framework of services and short-term labour mobility as well as chain liability mechanisms within Germany and the Netherlands. Our research findings suggest that there are differences in the implementation of EU policies at the national level. However, we do not see that change pressures occur within formal institutions, pushing national cases down their various paths. This does not necessarily lead to a deterioration of the working conditions, but to different forms of regulatory appropriation in different contexts. Investigating the way the regulation is appropriated at the micro-level can give insights into the loopholes created by the interplay between Europeanization, national systems and private actors.