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Rechtsstaat and Social Europe: How a Classical Tension Resurfaces in the European Integration Process

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For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Will the welfare state survive European Integration? The paper seeks to put this currently intense debate into constitutional perspectives. It starts with a reconstruction of the débat fondateur in post-war Germany on the new Basic Law, which was focused on alleged or real tensions of welfarism with Rechtsstaatlichkeit, the commitment to rule of law. This is the background for the discussion in Section II on legal categories, which Fritz Scharpf has characterised as a decoupling of economic integration from the various welfare traditions of Member States. The third section analyses the ECJ’s recent labour law jurisprudence with its interpretation of the supremacy of European freedoms and its rigid interpretation of pertinent secondary legislation. These controversial moves are bound to provoke fierce opposition on the part of the protagonists of “Social Europe.”


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