Contrary to the hopes of some, European integration has not brought about an industrial relations system that is comparable to national ones. Equally, however, it has not yet brought about the worst nightmare of many — the collapse of multi-employer bargaining and the fragmentation of existing national systems. Indeed, on the surface there has apparently been little change in the formal institutions of national systems. Instead, a complex multi-level system is emerging. Like the EU polity’s multi-level governance system, it reflects a history of informal and gradual development as well as deliberate institution building. National industrial relations systems have always been multi-level in some degree, with national, sector, company and workplace levels interacting with one another. Making the difference is the international dimension that European integration brings. Cross-national (horizontal) influences mix with national (vertical) ones and involve the sector and Euro-company levels as well as the Community level. Moreover, it is not only the formal processes of legal enactment, collective bargaining and coordination that are important. Coping with common constraints is encouraging the informal processes of isomorphism (‘competitive’, ‘coercive’, ‘mimetic’ and ‘normative’). In Teague’s (2001: 23) phrase, ‘Europe is learning from Europe’.
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