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The Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2010, which then spread to other European Union Member States, has challenged the foundations of social Europe. In response to this, extensive economic adjustment programmes were implemented in those states most affected by the crisis that impacted upon a number of key areas of national competence, including in labour law and social policy. These, in conjunction with the adoption of new economic governance mechanisms, point to a break with the pre-existing consensus on the European Social Model that recognised, among others, the role of collective bargaining in regulating terms and conditions of employment. Using the Greek case study as an example, the analysis critically evaluates the ‘legal mobilisation’ strategies that have been developed against the austerity measures affecting collective labour rights and in particular collective bargaining. It will be argued that the complex legal nature of the economic assistance programmes in conjunction with the reluctance of some supranational judicial bodies to consider the legality of the measures have limited significantly the scope for litigation. While it is crucial to reframe the crisis debate along the lines of the legality and legitimacy of the crisis-related measures, this will be insufficient without a major reconsideration in Europe that policies of austerity are not going to lead to economic growth and that procedural safeguards are needed for ensuring the development of alternative policies with the participation of groups affected by the measures.

Aristea Koukiadaki
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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