Keywords: regulatory competition; experimentalism; labour law; free movement of workers; Laval case.
This paper considers the implications for regulatory competition of
the judgment of the European Court of Justice in Laval. This case is potentially the most important decision on European labour law for a generation. The Court has greatly extended the scope for judicial review of state-level labour laws on the grounds that they restrict freedom of movement from one member state to another. It has also undermined the principle of the territorial effect of labour legislation and has given a strictly pre-emptive interpretation to social policy directives. The Laval judgment is, however, open to attack on a number of grounds. It fails to mount a coherent economic case for judicial intervention on the scale envisaged, and is, more generally, incompatible with the recent experimentalist or reflexive turn in European governance represented by the open method of coordination.