Walking the line or crossing it?
: Conceptualising the Court of Justice of the European Union's contribution to modern-day European social policy, post-2007, and in the context of the Lisbon Treaty reforms and the global economic and financial crisis.

  • Konstantinos Alexandris Polomarkakis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis conceptualises the contribution of the Court of Justice of the European Union to European social policy and, more specifically, to employment policies, workers’ protection, social rights and non-discrimination in the workplace. It focuses on the case-law decided in the aftermath of the Laval Quartet, the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and during the course of the crisis. It examines 114 judgments of the Court handed down between 2009-2015. Moreover, it employs an interdisciplinary analytical framework, drawing on legal, social policy and political science literature. This leads to a systematic analysis of the Court’s influence on the trajectory of an ever-expanding area of interest and involvement for the EU, in light of the manifold developments that simultaneously took place at judicial, policy and societal level. The analysis draws inspiration from leading typologies that conceptualise the variations among different welfare regimes and develops around the design of three recognisable clusters, each representing a distinct aspect of the Court’s approach to European social policy during the period studied: the anti- welfare, pro-welfare and in-between Court, each with its own distinguishable traits. This classification, not only provides answers to the core research question of conceptualising the Court’s contribution to European social policy in the course of the examined period, but also answers secondary questions about the impact of the surrounding developments, the existence of distinguishable patterns and the actuality of path-dependence and path-departure. Although influenced by the legislative context of the dispute, the Court enjoys considerable interpretative power over it, resembling a sui generis policy-maker. The findings confirm that the Court does not follow one particular direction, reflecting, through its inconsistencies, the diverse approaches towards welfare both at national and EU level.
Date of Award24 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorPhilip A J Syrpis (Supervisor) & Nina Boeger (Supervisor)

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