Inaugural lecture by Caroline de la Porte

European Union and national welfare states

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 14:30 to 16:30

Caroline de la Porte

European Union and national welfare states

Date: May 9th, 2017

Time: 14:30 - 16:30

Place:Råvarebygningen, Porcelænshaven 22, PHRs.20


In her inaugural lecture, Caroline de la Porte will discuss two controversial questions that are omnipresent in academic and public debate regarding the European Union and national welfare states. She will elucidate the questions based on her research.


First controversy: Have Member States lost ‘sovereignty’ with regard to their welfare states in the context of the EMU convergence criteria that entail limits on public expenditure? Does this imply that the Commission dictates the terms of welfare state reform?


Caroline de la Porte will argue and show that EU and EMU membership, even in the context of the Fiscal Compact and other initiatives, intervenes only indirectly in setting the budgetary boundaries for expenditure. Thus, the EU Commission does not ‘intervene’ or ‘impose’ policies in welfare states with sound economies. By contrast, member state governments are autonomous in the decisions that they make and may  ‘use’ the EU in order to make unpopular reforms. It is through domestic political processes and domestic reform agendas that decisions on welfare state reform are made.


Second controversy:  Is the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) a ‘political’ and ‘instrumental’ actor seeking constantly to expand the scope of EU law to the service of the single market only? Caroline de la Porte will show, on the basis of a recent analysis of case law in the area of fixed-term work, that the does not intervene in the politics of labour market policy. The CJEU does insist on the equal treatment of workers, regardless of their contractual arrangements, with strong reliance on its strong legal base of equal treatment. In this way, it influences working conditions in changing European labour markets, but without becoming a political actor.


The department invites for reception after the lecture.


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