Labour Rights Institute


‘Resocialising Europe in a Time of Crisis’ – The Project – The Conference – The Book


5 October 2012

In May 2012, the Labour Rights Institute of UCL (LRI), with the support of the British Academy, the UCL European Institute, and the UCL Faculty of Laws, organised an international conference on ‘Resocialising Europe and the Mutualization of Risks to Workers’.

During this two-day conference, a number of labour law and industrial relations academics, trade union officials, and national and European policy makers, offered a rich and articulate analysis and critique of the current state of the European integration project, and its increasingly lackluster record in the social, economic, and political spheres.

A fairly unique trait of the conference proceedings was the willingness of its participants to rescue the European integration project by rescuing its Social Dimension. The conference thus became a lab to experiment with and test new normative suggestions for ‘Resocialising Europe’.

Some of these suggestions made their way in a number of very original and highly normative papers, which were eventually collected and edited and can now be found in the CUP publication N. Countouris and M. Freedland (eds), Resocialising Europe in a Time of Crisis (CUP, 2013).

What you can also find in this page is a copy of the 2012 Conference Programme , the concept note for the Conference, and two excellent blog posts by Professor Keith Ewing (posting-live) (posting-pdf) and Sir John Monks (posting-live)(posting-pdf).

18-19 May 2012 – UCL Faculty of Laws, London

Terms such as ‘Social Europe’, the ‘European Social Dimension’, ‘European Social Model’, and, more recently, ‘European Social Pact’, have long resided in the political and regulatory lexicon of European integration.

But arguably, after reaching a climax in 2000 with the inclusion of a ‘Solidarity’ chapter in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the social profile of the EU has entered a deep period of crisis, one may say a phase of ‘social eurosclerosis’, recently exacerbated by the political responses to the economic downturn and its severe consequences on social and labour standards across the EU.

The status quo is one in which workers once again appear to shoulder most of the risks attendant upon the making and execution of arrangements for the doing of work, and associated with their particular personal work situation in the labour market at large.

We define this status quo as one in which a process of de-mutualisation of work related risks is seriously undermining the hard-fought and hard-earned social acquis that national social law, and Social Europe itself, once aspired to provide. And we advocate a reversal of this trend in favour of a process of fair-mutualisation of these risks, so as to disperse them away from workers, and share them more equitably between employers, the state, but also consumers, and society at large.

The Labour Rights Institute of UCL (LRI) seeks to bring together an interdisciplinary group of experts from the UK and the rest of Europe to discuss whether this current phase of ‘social eurosclerosis’ is likely to become a permanent feature of the EU, or whether new regulatory trajectories could and ought to be pursued. 

For further information you can contact Dr Nicola Countouris at n.countouris@ucl.ac.uk and/or Professor Mark Freedland at mark.freedland@law.ox.ac.uk.