Slowing down Social Europe? The struggle over work and employment regulation


Correspondence should be addressed to Mikkel Mailand, FAOS, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Oestre Farimagsgade 5, P.O. Box 2099, Copenhagen 1361 Kbh. K, Denmark; email:


The present article discusses whether the strengthening of the regulation-sceptical actors during the 2000s has affected the scope and content of EU-level regulation in two work-and-employment-related areas, and the role coalitions have played in the decision-making processes. In the employee involvement area, the pro-regulation forces still appeared able to get new regulation adopted and to prevent unwanted regulation from being adopted. In the employment policy area, a few examples of successful attempts by the regulation-sceptical actors to slow down Social Europe were found, but these were fewer than could be expected. One explanation for this relatively weak impact might be that the Commission's search for legitimacy in order to be re-elected functions as an ‘automatic stabiliser’. Contrary to studies of previous processes, no solid coalitions were found in any of the cases analysed, although several actors took positions as expected.