EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Treaty of Paris

The predecessor of the Treaties of Rome was the Treaty of Paris, which set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, with six Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) as the founder members. Like the later European Economic Community, the ECSC was designed to create a common market in coal and steel, essentially an economic, not a social policy objective. However, Article 2 of the Treaty of Paris had as its objective to contribute to the development of employment and improvement of the standard of living of the Member States. Article 3 stated that the purposes of the institutions of the new Community were ‘to promote improved working conditions and an improved standard of living for the workers in each of the industries for which it is responsible’. Comparison may be made with Article 117 of the former EC Treaty: ‘Member States agree upon the need to promote improved working conditions and improved standards of living for workers....’

The ‘employment policy’ of the ECSC was based not on stability of employment, but on the contrary: the adaptation of workers to economic change. The creation of a common market in coal and steel meant closure of some plants and re-conversion of others. The ECSC provided help to support the re-conversion of enterprises and the redeployment of workers who lost their jobs. The policy was not to protect jobs in the sense of a stable employment but to support technological change with all the implications for restructuring labour in the enterprise, including loss of employment, but without the workers suffering financial detriment. The emphasis was on helping such workers to find other work or a different occupation.

Two provisions in the employment and industrial relations sphere are worth noting. First, Article 68 authorised the High Authority to intervene if wage levels and social provisions led to a distortion of competition within the market (it has never been used). Second, there was labour representation on the High Authority, the ECSC executive composed of nine members, which included a trade union representative. In addition, the High Authority was flanked by a Consultative Committee composed of employer and worker representatives, chosen from lists put forward by representative organisations. The High Authority was later dissolved into the European Commission and the Consultative Committee into the European Economic and Social Committee. The remarkable quality of this European labour law and policy, combining active labour market policy with labour involvement in the mechanisms of adjustment, is highlighted by the contrast with what succeeded it in the Treaties of Rome.

The Treaty of Paris was concluded with a provision for a fixed period of duration of 50 years. It expired, together with the ECSC in 2002, and its subject matter now falls within the remit of the TEU/TFEU .

See also: EU law; Single European Act; Treaty of Amsterdam; Treaty of Lisbon; Treaty of Maastricht; Treaty of Nice; treaty provisions.


Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
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