In the coming months, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will reach a decision on the case European Public Service Union (EPSU) and Goudriaan v Commission (C-928/19 P), which could be crucial for the future of the EU social dialogue. The EPSU case initially originated from the Commission’s refusal to transmit a proposal for a Council Decision, which could have given legislative implementation to the social partners’ agreement stipulated by TUNED and EUPAE.

This policy brief by Silvia Rainone aims to highlight some critical aspects of the General Court’s decision and elaborate arguments to redirect the Court of Justice’s reasoning towards a better appraisal of the legal questions at stake. Looking at the General Court’s judgment, it is indeed rather surprising to note the absence of an adequate evaluation of the legitimacy and scope of the Commission’s assessment that led to the rejection of the social partners’ request. The Commission’s refusal to submit a proposal for the legislative implementation of the EUPAE and TUNED agreement confirms that the hostility that the Commission showed towards sectoral social dialogue in relation to the hairdressing agreement was not an isolated episode. The EPSU case now gives to the Court of Justice the occasion to clarify the effective boundaries of the Commission’s control over social partners’ agreements. This judgment could be determinant in defining the institutional value of social partners’ negotiations at the European level and the role of EU social dialogue, with broader repercussions for the EU social model.

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Table of contents

After the ‘Hairdressing agreement’, the EPSU case. Can the Commission control the EU social dialogue_2020.pdf