Chapter 7 The CJEU as guardian of social rights? The legacy of the European financial crisis
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The European financial crisis has questioned many assumptions of the constitutional structure of the European Union. The urgent need to overcome the financial distress of European states led to a number of initiatives at the political and legal level that eventually resolved to a mutation of EU's constitutional order. New instruments strengthening European economic governance were introduced, leading to a much structured and stricter surveillance of domestic policies. The country-specific economic governance applied to the Eurozone states that accepted financial assistance was subject to strict conditionality, which pressed for reforms, not only in recipient countries' economies, but also in their healthcare and pension systems, education and labour sectors. This constitutional mutation has so far been merely conceived as a change of EU's economic constitution. Yet, it has important repercussions in other constitutional dimensions, mainly that of social policy and social rights. This chapter aims at heeding the social dimension of this constitutional change and the role of CJEU following three steps. Firstly, it explains why financial assistance conditionality is not just a developed form of economic governance, but also a means of social governance. Secondly, it assesses the crisis-driven case law of the CJEU with regard to social rights and economic rights. Thirdly, it investigates the legacy of the crisis with regard to the CJEU as a guardian of social rights.

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