The effects of advancing European integration on national systems of industrial relations, and the associated need for a systematic analysis of the conditions, forms, and direction of the Europeanisation and 'supranationalisation' of industrial relations, have long ago attracted the attention of researchers. Although a number of valuable comparative studies have appeared in the last decade (Ferner and Hyman 1992; Hyman and Ferner 1997; Bispinck and Lecher 1999), by and large these have not concerned themselves with the specific context of the European Union and the transnational dimension of industrial relations. (Wolfgang Lecher, 133) In particular, there has been almost no systematic consideration of the interaction between and consequences of the co-existence and superimposition of supranational and national relations between state actors and the parties to collective bargaining, both for systems of industrial relations and for broader areas of policy at the various levels of the European Union's multi-tiered system of governance. Similarly, there has been little research into the effects of the horizontal interaction between differing national systems of industrial relations and approaches to social and economic organization which are embedded in the same EMU and, as a result, are subject to the pressures of mutual regime competition.
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