A Matter of Degree: Europeanization, ILO Treaty Ratification and Labour Standards in Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The EU and the ILO have invested large amounts of resources in the past 20 years in promoting core labour standards. This article examines the products on these investments, by analysing the linkage between the protection of collective labour rights, countries’ statuses in the EU, ratification of the ILO’s fundamental conventions and ILO monitoring. The article argues that labour standards were formulated to counteract competitive pressures aggravated by economic integration, by creating minimum standards. The ILO created minimum standards by designating eight conventions as fundamental conventions, and monitoring countries’ compliance. The EU promoted the ILO’s minimum standards, using hard and soft legal instruments, among its members and partner countries. The article hypothesize that these instruments have led to Europeanization and harmonization of labour standards beyond the circles of EU members and EU candidate countries. It tests these hypotheses by analysing data on labour standards in 42 European countries. The results indicate that strengthened relations with the EU are positively associated with subsequent labour standards. The article concludes in pointing out policy and theoretical implications. Namely that the EU’s external action in Europe is a promising venue of EU influence and that Europeanization is a matter of degree rather than category.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-374
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • European Union
  • Europeanization
  • International Labour Organization
  • Labour standards
  • Panel data
  • Trade and Human rights


Dive into the research topics of 'A Matter of Degree: Europeanization, ILO Treaty Ratification and Labour Standards in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this