This article discusses whether European social partners can derive the competence to autonomously devise European collective labour agreements from Article 139 EC (equals Article III-212 Constitution of Europe). Placing the question in the context of discussions of EU governance and private lawmaking in general, the author starts with a comparative overview of legal conceptions for collective labour agreements in Europe, focusing on three Member States' orders where their effects are not or only partly regulated by state legislation. Based on this comparison, she analyses Article 139(2) and offers a new interpretation of its provisions concerning autonomous implementation of European social partner agreements. She concludes that European social partners do have the competence to agree on a basic agreement stating the rules for European collective bargaining autonomously.
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