This essay examines the objectives and the contents of labour market structural reforms as carried out within the context of the new European economic governance in order to grant (direct and indirect) support to the achievement of budgetary and macroeconomic balance objectives. Compared with EU social and labour policies - and, more in general, with the EU legal order - the regulatory effects of this sort of "parallel legal system" have strongly influenced the 2012 and 2014/2015 Italian reforms (under Monti’s and Renzi’s governments), shifting the focus of employment rights protection from the (law of the employment) contract to the market. On this basis, the "answers" to this paradigm change suggested by the Italian and Portuguese Constitutional Courts (judgment n. 70/2015) are taken into due consideration. But the main purpose of the paper is rather to insist on the necessity to assume the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as a normative reference point for the protection of employment rights, which also implies acknowledging the crucial role of EU courts in this field. The assumption of this thesis is the full and direct applicability of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in order to protect workers’ fundamental rights affected by national reforms of the labour market. To this end, the author argues that the reforms themselves can be seen as an «application of the EU law», so triggering the applicability of Art. 51.1 of the EU Charter. The social sustainability of the reforms taking place in relation to the European economic governance and based on austerity cannot be just committed to national legislatures and courts but has indeed to rely on EU law antibodies, i.e. the wide range of fundamental social rights proclaimed by the Charter.
Keywords: Labour market; Austerity; European economic governance; Fundamental Rights; Charter of Fundamental Rights.