This chapter introduces the theoretical framework used to examine the rationales for EU intervention in the labour law arena. The aims and objectives of intervention in labour law, and of the European Union itself, are contested. The integrationist, economic, and social rationales for intervention are defined and distinguished, and their interconnections described. The nature of the evolving competence of the EU in the social sphere is outlined, with particular attention devoted to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Intervention by the Court and the political institutions (via harmonization, mutual recognition and new modes of governance) are considered, and the structure of the remainder of the text is provided.
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