Italian Labour Law e-Journal 2022-11-03T16:36:50+01:00 Emanuele Menegatti Open Journal Systems <strong>Italian Labour Law e-Journal (ILLeJ) – ISSN 1561-8048</strong> is an open-access peer-reviewed Journal aiming at the advancement of comparative studies on current labour law topics. The social dimension of EU economic governance after the Covid-19 pandemic: exploring new interlinkages 2022-10-31T12:57:14+01:00 Sonja Bekker <p>This article assesses the space for the social dimension of EU economic governance after the Covid-19 pandemic. It does so by looking at the types of instruments that are used to further European social policy. It describes how rule-based, coordination-based and monetary-based instruments are connected to different conceptualisations of European social policy and the role national actors might play, including the social partners. The different instruments are brought together in governance architectures, for example in the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Semester, and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Lately, monetary-based instruments have been used more often, also in order to shape European social policy. Moreover, apart from combining different instruments, the governance architectures themselves seem deliberately to be interlinked. The article ends with a provisional research agenda, proposing questions that should be addressed in order to understand how the social dimension is anchored in the wide range of governance instruments.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Sonja Bekker The Recovery and Resilience Facility: Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe? 2022-11-01T10:41:39+01:00 Francesco Corti Alessandro Liscai Tomas Ruiz <p>Moving away from the austerity conditionality approach towards a new expansionary investment–led growth strategy, the Recovery and Resilient Facility represents a break with what went before and is an innovative instrument to support public investment in Europe. In particular, by placing the objectives of upward social convergence and implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights at its core, the RRF is expected to help boost investment in social infrastructure in the EU after a decade of underinvestment. Zooming in on a sample of six countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain), this article investigates the extent to which the social investments included in the plans are truly additional. It finds that the RRF has indeed fasted-forward the implementation of investments in social infrastructure, which would have otherwise been remained merely on paper, especially in those countries with limited fiscal capacity (Italy, Spain, Portugal but also Belgium). By contrast, in countries such as Germany and Austria, RRF social spending is used largely to replace already planned or budgeted investments. Even in the former group, however, the article shows that around one-third of the social spending is allocated to already planned or ongoing projects.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Francesco Corti, Alessandro Liscai, Tomas Ruiz From deregulatory pressure to laissez faire: the (moderate) social implications of the EU recovery strategy 2022-10-31T19:55:43+01:00 Silvia Rainone <p>This article assesses the impact of the EU recovery strategy in (re)aligning the EU with the pursuit of its social objectives, including those defined in the Porto Declaration. First, the focus is on the major innovations introduced by the NextGenerationEU (NGEU) plan and SURE (a temporary instrument aimed at mitigating unemployment risks during the pandemic) in relation to the social dimension of EU integration. Elements such as the incentive for public investments, softer forms of macroeconomic and fiscal conditionality, and the valorisation of the European Pillar of Social Rights constitute fundamental differences from the approach that had characterised the euro crisis. Subsequently, however, the article shows that this greater openness of EU governance towards social and labour protection policies does not translate into a tangible strengthening of safeguards in the national recovery and resilience plans. The article then argues that achieving the EU's social objectives requires the establishment of more effective incentives, and concludes by proposing a roadmap for future reforms.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Silvia Rainone National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Austria 2022-10-29T10:44:58+02:00 Verena Vinzenz <p>Austria’s recovery and resilience plan (RRP) was officially adopted by the Council on 13 July 2021. While its main focus lies on implementation of the so-called ‘green’ and ‘digital transitions’, the Austrian RRP also contains a number of reforms and investments that directly impact the labour market. The goal of this article is to explore these implications and put them in the context of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the annual country-specific recommendations issued by the European Commission.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Verena Vinzenz National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Belgium 2022-10-26T13:48:24+02:00 Pieter Pecinovsky <p>The funds of the NextGenerationEU recovery plan have been welcomed by the Belgian government as an opportunity to make investments while the state budget was limited as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Social policy measures form only a limited part of the Belgian Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) and Belgium’s peculiar government structure – entailing a patchwork of initiatives from the various federal, Flemish, Brussels and Walloon governments – does not necessarily make it easy to develop a coherent approach for the country as a whole. Nevertheless there are some clear priorities, such as labour market inclusion and increasing labour market participation, fostering digital skills and lifelong learning. The social partners’ involvement in developing the plan has been rather minimal. The Commission’s assessment was positive overall, but the lack of major pension reforms might yield a different view in the future. In any case, the fear that the Commission (and Council) would use NextGenerationEU to call for new austerity measures has not come true, which is helped by the fact that the EU is still not returning to a strict application of its fiscal rules.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Pieter Pecinovsky National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Bulgaria 2022-10-31T12:23:15+01:00 Krassimira Sredkova Albena Velikova-Stoyanova <p>Bulgaria is still in the early stages of implementing the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. Because of the unstable political situation since 2020 the European Commission approved the Plan only at the end of May 2022. Furthermore, more than 22 laws and 60 strategies are necessary for implementation, and the current uncertainty very few steps are being taken. According to the RRP, the main tasks facing Bulgaria are education and qualifications, research and innovation, strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises, developing a decarbonised economy, sustainable agriculture paying attention to biodiversity, digitalisation, sustainable transport, development of local self-government, the environment, social inclusion, and health care. They are analysed in detail in this chapter in accordance with the activities of national institutions.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Krassimira Sredkova, Albena Velikova-Stoyanova National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Croatia 2022-10-29T16:24:42+02:00 Sandra Laleta <p>Croatia’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), adopted by the Council on 20 July 2021, encompasses reforms in three main areas: green transition, digital transition, and economic and social resilience. The Plan in general is expected to foster economic growth and create jobs. The article analyses the social and labour dimension of the RRP, also in light of implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the country-specific recommendations issued by the European Commission.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Sandra Laleta National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Czechia 2022-10-27T17:37:39+02:00 Jan Bittner <p>The Czech position vis-à-vis the NGEU plan prioritised the maximisation of grants for domestic investments while ensuring autonomy in their targeting. The National Resilience and Recovery Plan prioritises the investment side at the expense of structural reforms. The direction of investments resembles the priorities pursued in the context of cohesion policy, while meeting climate and digital targets. Most of the investments are in infrastructure projects. The biggest shortcoming of the Czech plan is the absence of a vision of how to take advantage of the economic potential of the green transition and digitalisation.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Jan Bittner National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Denmark 2022-10-18T16:06:04+02:00 Bjørn Holtze <p>This article outlines Denmark’s implementation of the funds aimed at economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis. Denmark applied only for grants, not loans, as the Danish economy is strong, and has not suffered significantly during the crisis. With this in mind, the article concludes that EU grants have had only a minor impact in the social dimension and the labour market.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Bjørn Holtze National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Finland 2022-10-31T08:01:33+01:00 Samuli Hiilesniemi <p>Finland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) is strongly focused on supporting the green transition and digitalization. The plan addresses a wide range of country-specific structural challenges that are considered necessary to reinforce economic and social resilience. In the context of employment, a key objective is to raise employment to a level comparable with Finland’s Nordic peers. In principle, the RRP’s objectives are justified and have been positively assessed by the Commission. But while the RRP does include the overarching aim of tackling inequality, some legitimate questions remain on that subject.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Samuli Hiilesniemi National Recovery and Resilience Plan: France 2022-10-31T11:26:30+01:00 Konstantina Chatzilaou <p>France’s Recovery and Resilience Plan was submitted to the European Commission on 28 April 2021, in accordance with Art. 18 of Regulation (EU) 2021/241 establishing the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Being a part of a broader national recovery plan named ‘<em>France Relance</em>’, it consists of 20 reforms and 71 investments in three main areas: green transition, digital transition, and social and territorial cohesion. With particular regard to social issues, the French plan puts a strong focus on youth labour market integration and health care, while being relatively poor in measures relevant to labour law and social protection. Overall, although the plan demonstrates a certain openness towards social growth, it also contains some austerity-driven reforms, especially in the fields of unemployment insurance and retirement pensions, thereby confirming the (still) strong link between social policies and financial sustainability.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Konstantina Chatzilaou National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Germany 2022-10-19T16:01:08+02:00 Björn Hacker <p>By helping to give birth to the establishment of NextGenerationEU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the German government made a U-turn in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic compared with its earlier austerity approach in the management of the Euro crisis. Opposition to the new European debt and transfer instruments has been silent and political leaders have integrated the additional grants into their planning processes concerning changing the country’s energy supply and expanding digitalisation. While the Recovery and Resilience Plan was assessed positively, some preconditions for implementing it still seem to be missing, such as better electricity and high-capacity broadband networks. The process of transforming the German economy structurally to be greener and more digitalised has, however, neglected the social implications. While a minor proportion of the RRP will be spent on strengthening social resilience, many vulnerable groups are not in the focus of the state’s activities. The EU’s conclusions in the 2019 Country Specific Recommendations are treated rather in economic than in social terms. A sustainable new growth model would need to tackle also long-standing problems such as the high external surplus, the low public investment rate, income inequality and the relatively high at-risk-of-poverty rate.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Björn Hacker National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Greece 2022-10-19T15:22:54+02:00 Manos Matsaganis Georgios Manalis <p>The NextGenerationEU plan is a golden opportunity for those Member States that were most badly hit, first, by the debt crisis, and then by the Covid-19 pandemic. Greece, one of the largest beneficiaries in per capita terms, is due to receive very significant resources that can help arrest the decline of the 2010s. Can these resources be spent wisely and efficiently enough to kickstart the process of inclusive and sustainable growth? This paper briefly reviews the Greek National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Greece 2.0), assessing its potential contribution to upgrading the economy’s growth model, enhancing skills, boosting employment and improving social services.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Manos Matsaganis, Georgios Manalis National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Hungary 2022-10-29T16:08:10+02:00 Tamás Gyulavári <p>For the Hungarian government the debate was not really about the details of the NextGenerationEU plan, but rather how to hinder the conditionality regulation. Finally, a compromise was reached to suspend application of the conditionality regime until the CJEU ruling, which was delivered on 16 February 2022, confirming the regulation’s validity. The European Commission sent a letter to the Hungarian government to start the conditionality mechanism on 5 April 2022. At the same time, the European Commission has not given the greenlight to Hungary for the NextGenerationEU fund. Hungary’s Recovery and Resilience Plan focuses on health and transport, and little attention has been paid to social issues. As an exception, an innovative programme is planned to support catching-up settlements</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Tamás Gyulavári National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Ireland 2022-10-30T16:04:32+01:00 Alan Eustace <p>Political leaders and the public in Ireland broadly welcomed the establishment of NextGenerationEU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, despite limited public engagement with the detail of the programme. The method for calculating funding allocations has been criticized on the basis that the activities of multinational companies disguise the damage caused to the domestic economy by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving Ireland with only a small allocation. Fears that the programme will act as a Trojan Horse for renewed austerity are understandable in light of Ireland’s experience of the EU–IMF bailout during the Financial Crisis, but ultimately seem unfounded. There is no evidence that EU institutions have been pushing Ireland towards austerity in recent years, as shown by the content of the country-specific recommendations. Although the Irish Resilience and Recovery Plan is unlikely to be transformational, it is nonetheless welcome as one aspect of the rebuilding effort after the pandemic, and should have some (albeit small) positive impact on protecting labour and social rights in Ireland. It is disappointing that the opportunity to focus more on social policy was not seized, but the small amount of funding available to Ireland meant that the impact was always going to be limited.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Alan Eustace National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Italy 2022-10-29T13:05:55+02:00 Edoardo Ales <p>In this chapter we examine how Italy has stimulated EU action in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has benefited from the NextGenerationEU plan as one of the countries most affected by the pandemic. We show how the adoption of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan has impacted the still troubled political landscape, but also how the Italian institutions have managed to allocate funding efficiently by providing, among other things, unprecedented financial and structural support for social and labour market policies. We also highlight the uncertainty caused by the forthcoming elections.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Edoardo Ales National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Latvia 2022-10-30T12:46:31+01:00 Linda Romele <p>Political leaders and civil society representatives, including the social partners, reached agreement on the main elements to be incorporated in Latvia’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP). The social partners, however, are not entirely satisfied with the final result. Among other things, they regard it as too fragmented and lacking ambition. Both social and cooperating partners, such as the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia, the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were brought on board too late, practically when the plan was ready and was about to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The positive thing is the fact that the RRP for each EU Member State had to be prepared based on the recommendations of the European Commission within the framework of the European Semester. While hitherto EC recommendations were merely suggested, their integration in the economic recovery strategy has increased their impact. Moreover, unlike EU Structural Fund financing, the EU financial assistance of the RRF can be directed only to areas in which reforms are planned within the framework of the RRP, with a specific focus on the green transition.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Linda Romele National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Luxembourg 2022-10-31T07:55:56+01:00 Luca Ratti <p>Luxembourg’s national Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) unfolds in three directions: social, green and digital. They largely correspond to the idea of sustainable growth endorsed by the UN SDGs. The EU Commission acknowledged that the investments and reforms set out in Luxembourg’s RRP may effectively support the green and digital transitions; help to address challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen Luxembourg’s growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience. Nevertheless, the country needs to cope with a number of unresolved issues, including the financial sustainability of its public pensions scheme and skills shortages in some key sectors, such as health care. Luxembourg’s RRP seems particularly promising because of the possibility it offers of building on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, thereby providing it with a solid social basis.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Luca Ratti National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Malta 2022-10-30T12:30:03+01:00 Manwel Debono <p>The RRP provided the new Prime Minister with an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to tackling the major challenges faced by Malta, including the environment and the rule of law. While Malta’s RRP focuses primarily on the green transition, followed by digitalisation, it also contains measures intended to strengthen the health care system, enhance education and socioeconomic sustainability, and reinforce the country’s institutional framework. The plan was judged positively by the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. While seeking to address the Country-Specific Recommendations of 2019 and 2020, the plan also tackles several aspects listed in the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Social Scoreboard. The RRP is meant to be viewed as part of a larger strategy that includes the Multiannual Financial Framework. While the RRP focuses on challenges that were already apparent during the European debt crisis, it is also aimed at tackling new challenges that have emerged over the past decade. The social partners have tended to be dissatisfied with their involvement in the RRP process. The RRP appears adequate to avoid a retrenchment of the social dimension, however, as it channels the country towards a more sustainable growth model.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Manwel Debono National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Poland 2022-10-31T16:40:19+01:00 Izabela Florczak Anna Piszczek Krzysztof Stefański <p>Given Poland's failure to respect the rule of law, the adoption and implementation of the RRP has been more challenging than for countries that respect the principles of a democratic state. The pre-approved Polish RRP focuses on the hitherto completely marginalised green transition and the still insufficiently implemented digital transformation. The disbursement of funds for implementing the relevant objectives, however, is subject to meeting conditions related to reform of the judicial system.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Izabela Florczak, Anna Piszczek, Krzysztof Stefański National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Portugal 2022-10-27T09:35:30+02:00 Ana Teresa Ribeiro <p>This article addresses not only Portugal’s position vis-à-vis the NGEU, but also the contents of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan and its assessment by the European Commission and the Council. It provides an overview of its most significant measures with regard to social and employment policies, as well as the plan’s stance regarding the European Pillar of Social Rights, the 2019, 2020, and 2022 Country-Specific Recommendations. The European Commission’s in-depth analysis of Portugal is also examined.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Ana Teresa Ribeiro National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Romania 2022-10-27T18:37:55+02:00 Raluca Dimitriu <p>Romania’s extremely ambitious Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) was approved in November 2022. The plan is well written and articulated; it seems to correctly identify the critical points of the Romanian economy and society and to address them precisely. From a social point of view, the RRP includes reforms regarding the setting of the minimum wage and the modernisation of the Romanian social benefit system with the help of a subsistence minimum, aimed at combating poverty and creating fairer working conditions. In addition, the comprehensive pension reform is intended to help Romania meet its demographic aging challenges and to ensure compliance with the contribution principle as regards pension right beneficiaries. If applied, these measures would lead to substantial social changes. <br>The main challenge for Romania, however, could be the implementation of the plan. The current political situation, as well as Romania's history as a late absorber of European funds, may give rise to a certain scepticism.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Raluca Dimitriu National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Slovenia 2022-10-30T11:42:53+01:00 Polona Domadenik Muren Valentina Franca <p>The European Commission approved Slovenia’s recovery and resilience plan (RRP) on 1 July 2021. Although the RRP and the partnership agreement and programmes under cohesion policy funds for 2021–2027 took into consideration Country Specific Recommendations and investment guidance sound strategic priorities set at the national level are lacking. Moreover, proposed projects do not take uneven regional distribution sufficiently into account. While the main focus of the RRP lies on the implementation of the so-called green and digital transitions, it also envisages a number of reforms and investments that directly impact the labour market (training, education and pension reform, for example). The goal of this article is to present the reforms in the context of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Country Specific Recommendations issued within the European Semester.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Polona Domadenik Muren , Valentina Franca National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Spain 2022-10-28T17:52:09+02:00 Ane Aranguiz <p>Although still carrying substantial deficits from the 2008 housing crisis, Spain’s economy was experiencing a gradual recovery prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This drastically changed with the health-care emergency, leaving Spain among the hardest hit Member States in the EU. The financial assistance provided by the EU in the context of the NextGenerationEU recovery plan represents a golden opportunity, not only to invest in the areas most affected by the pandemic, but perhaps more importantly, to target prevailing deficiencies in the Spanish economy and make it more resilient to future threats. This contribution studies the National Recovery and Resilience Plan presented by Spain to access the NGEU financial support. It focuses particularly on the social and labour reforms presented therein and puts these in the broader context of the EU governance and political framework. The contribution concludes with some final considerations.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Ane Aranguiz National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Sweden 2022-10-31T11:43:20+01:00 Andrea Iossa <p>This contribution illustrates the main elements of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan presented by the Swedish government in 2022 in the context of the NextGenerationEU Action Plan. Along with an overview of its general features, this contribution focuses on the Plan’s social and labour components. It illustrates the reforms and measures the Swedish government presented in order to tackle major problems on the labour market, including inclusion of marginal groups, job training to improve skills in key professions, such as health and elder care, and to facilitate job transition, and to tackle labour shortages in key sectors such as elder care and education. The contribution also reviews the role of the social partners in dealing with the labour market effects of the Covid-19 pandemic through collective bargaining. There is also a retrospective analysis of their role in the 2008 economic crisis.</p> 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Andrea Iossa Editorial 2022-10-31T17:19:39+01:00 Emanuele Menegatti Silvia Rainone 2022-11-03T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Emanuele Menegatti, Silvia Rainone