The essay analyses the impact of global competition and of the economic crisis on the main national and European Labour Institutions: namely labour market regulations, collective agreements, welfare measures. It examines the changes in these institutions, their correspondence to the social market economy model; on the other hand the influence on the same institutions of market pressures and of the austerity measures "prevailing" in Europe. The recent evolution of the concept of "flexicurity" is traced, in particular the proposals to redefine the balance between flexibility and security measures. The paper analyses the "recalibration" of welfare systems faced with the pressures to contain costs and the trend to emphasyze their functions of "social investment". The final sections describe the trend towards some hybridisation of different national labour systems and the proposals to revise the original European "asymmetry" between economic integration and social policies, by some direct intervention of the Union in setting basic social standards and by strengthening the European governance.
Keywords: Labour Law; European Welfare States; Social Inclusion; European Policies; Legal and Collective Regulation.