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Acquired Rights Directive; community governance; community legislation; social dialogue; Social Policy


Although much of the present-day focus on governance in the social policy field tends to focus on "new" methods of governance such as the Open Method of Coordination, more well-established instruments of governance continue to merit our attention. This paper focuses on two instruments of classic Community governance in the social policy field - viz., the use of the social dialogue and classic Community legislation. The paper begins with some useful context-setting by discussing the elusive consensus that has surrounded Community social policy, a reality which has presented both difficulties and opportunities. The so-called process of 'bargaining in the shadow of the law' is then examined - in other words, the evolving role of social dialogue in Community social policy. The deployment of the classic "Community method" is also looked at, with various reflections offered on the experience of one prominent example of legislation in the social policy field - the Acquired Rights Directive. Finally some reflections on national implementation of Directives are offered, based on study of the Irish Implementation of the Acquired Rights Directive - reflections which may be of value in considering the true worth not only of classic Community legislation but also that of the social dialogue process when this gives rise to Community directives.