EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life


Enforcement of EU labour law has strategic potential in the form of what has come to be known as ‘Euro-litigation’: a sustained strategy of using EC law in litigation in order to achieve objectives in the employment and industrial relations field.

EC law is mostly used in two ways. First, as a source of substantive rules, for example, to override restrictive national law that fails to implement EC law adequately, as when UK law on transfers of undertakings was held not to comply with the Acquired Rights Directive 77/187, consolidated in Directive 2001/23 (Commission of the EC v. UK, Case 382/92, [1994] ). Secondly, to provide remedies against the state, as in the case of state responsibility to compensate workers suffering damage by reason of failure to implement directives granting employment rights (Francovich and Bonfaci v. Italian Republic, Cases C-6/90 and 9/90 [1991] ), or just better remedies, as when statutory limitations on compensation for sex discrimination are overruled (M.H. Marshall v. Southampton and South West Area Health Authority (No. 2), Case 271/91 [1993]).

Further, Euro-litigation is a consequence of the uncertainty of EC law, which allows for challenges in the courts to national laws that appear to contravene EC law. Interim remedies from the domestic courts may block enforcement of such national laws. Euro-litigation strategy relies on referrals to the European Court of Justice, blocking enforcement of national laws by challenging them in lower courts.

See also: access to the judicial process; judicial cooperation in the EU; judicial enforcement of EC law; national labour courts; preliminary reference procedure.

Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Add new comment