The XIV European Regional Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law (ISLSSL) - The Lighthouse Function of Social Law


Dates and times: 

September 6, 2023 - 09:00 to September 8, 2023 - 18:00


University of Ghent
University of Ghent
9000 Ghent


In cooperation with BEGASOZ/ABETRASS and ISLSSL, the LIISA social law research unit of Ghent University organises the XIV the European congress of ISLSSL dedicated to the interaction between social law and other areas of law. Social law is not an isolated domain but rather interacts and exchanges with other fields, often even functioning as a guide or giving direction to those lost at sea. In other words: a lighthouse.

We would like to invite you to present your valuable research and a paper at the XIV European Regional Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law. This conference will shed light on a broad range of subjects, the key question being the existence of a connection between social law sensu stricto (labour law and social security law) and other areas of law.

In recent times, labour law and social security law have been subject to many reforms. Some even say that this area of law is in a crisis. To get an overall picture of the current evolutions in relation to other areas of law, LIISA | Lab for International & Interdisciplinary Social Affairs dedicates a three-day congress to this theme. Can we, by looking at these evolutions, draw certain conclusions at an innovative scientific level? For instance, what is the role of basic legal principles in those interactions? Are there any recurring similar basic principles or legal mechanisms?

We invite you to embark on our journey to discover, together, how social law constitutes a lighthouse to other areas of law. We encourage proposals that address topical and challenging issues around four broad topics. We in particular encourage an inter- and multidisciplinary approach. The conference aims to give young researchers the opportunity to exchange their ideas. In order to enable a global discussion, papers can be presented in four languages: English, French, German or Spanish.

The four points of our compass

The programme of the Lighthouse Function of Social Law Congress will be oriented towards four broad topics. These constitute the four points of our compass:

1) Basic and fundamental principles in European social law

What constitutes the substructure of our social system? Which basic principles give shape to it? The development of social fundamental rights in several international and regional instruments (e.g. Council of Europe) and of the basic principles within the European Pillar of Social Rights is an indication of the quest for basic principles but also of the undercurrent of tension between fundamental rights and economic needs. Does the protection of the employees play an equally fundamental role in this respect? Furthermore, different levels (EU, ECHR, UN, constitution…) give shape to this topic. What are the consequences of the adoption of such principles for the development of our social systems and for the concrete rights and obligations of all parties involved? Can we find common characteristics in our European systems? How do internal constitutional and national regulations interfere with the European dimension?

2) Enforcement in social law

Effective enforcement of labour and social security law entails numerous challenges and hurdles. How can the effectiveness of social law be strengthened? Whereas some push for an administrative law approach or a civil law way, others zealously defend a penal method. In addition, judicial supervision of labour law infringements obviously also remains an option. Furthermore, within the EU, the Court of Justice of the EU has elaborated some principles with a view to effective enforcement of European social law. Which role do all actors play in this regard? Various third actors such as social partners, NGOs, but also private players in security play an increasingly important role in enforcement. Could they facilitate or even take over the role of inspection services? In this respect, it is not without importance to note that soft law also progressively makes its entrance in social law. What is the legal value of open method coordination? What is its impact on enforcement?

3) The future in the light of the past

Our labour market is regularly affected by a crisis. The 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 crisis both entailed ad hoc or other measures to save the labour market and also our social system. Sometimes, measures are taken that seem to question the fundamental principles of our systems, thus rewriting our social system through measures concerning working time, work organisation, dismissal law, relaxing of the conditions to be entitled to benefits, a whole bunch of subsidies, increasing equalisation between the self-employed and employees, even more flexibility, etc. These changes sometimes constitute the forerunner of new measures. More often, however, in the hindsight they appear to have been ad hoc measures that are later reversed. Usually, crises are not exactly the best teacher when it comes to reforms. Nonetheless, these crises do reveal the limitations of our existing systems. Could we draw lessons from them to know what we should and should not do? Could we draw comparisons with steps undertaken in past crises? Until the nineteenth century, many people worked at home without any social security whatsoever. Is history repeating itself?

4) The impact of regionalisation

The division of powers between regional, national and European levels continues to present major challenges. The answers to the COVID-19 crisis constitute a prime example of this. Will we manage to react at the proper level? Is there such a proper level in the first place? Do regional organisations such as the Benelux, Nordic Countries, Council of Europe, OECD, EU, or other regional organsiations outside Europe take initiatives to safeguard their social models? The limited powers (?) of the EU when it comes to labour law, social security law, health law (including occupational health) have surely revealed within the EU that Member States often had directly opposing views, but also that the powers of various actors are sometimes difficult to reconcile. The increasing role of social compensation mechanisms (which do not fall within EU competence) presents numerous challenges. The role of national systems and national powers needs to be addressed in this context. At the same time, we are fighting at European level for the survival of our social model. Nothing could better illustrate this than Brexit as well as social clauses in international treaties. Who does what? Who is able to act?


Interested participants should email the following information to

· title of the paper

· language of the paper: one of the four conference languages (English, German, French, Spanish)

· an abstract of no more than 500 words

· the name of the author, affiliation and biographical details

· your contact details


Abstracts should be sent in by 13 February 2022.
Decision on acceptation abstracts by 27 March 2022
Contributions should be sent in by 1 December 2022.

Accepted authors will receive the author’s instructions.

After a positive peer review, accepted papers will be published in the conference book, which will be available at the conference itself (publication by an international high-standing publisher in English), or will be published in international journals (all conference languages).

All abstracts are reviewed by the Scientific Board of the conference (and other international experts).

Scientific Board

Behind the scenes, our Scientific Board is busy preparing the conference at full speed. These are the members of our Scientific Board:

Yves Jorens - Professor of (European) Social Law and Social Criminal Law at Ghent University
Alexander De Becker - Professor of Labour Law at Ghent University
Ana Belén Muñoz Ruiz - Professor of Labour Law and Social Security Law at the Charles III University of Madrid
Stefano Giubboni - Professor of Labour Law at the University of Perugia
Fabienne Kéfer - Professor of Labour Law at the University of Liège
Kristina Koldinská - Professor of Labour Law and Social Security Law at the Charles University of Prague
Jens Kristiansen - Professor of Labour Law at the University of Copenhagen
Claire La Hovary - senior legal specialist at the International Labour Organisation
Kurt Pärli - Professor of Social Private Law at the University of Basel
Grega Strban - Professor of Social Security Law at the University of Ljubljana

Already note down the dates of our conference in your agenda: 6-8 September 2023. Keep in mind that registration will open in September 2022.

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Abstract submission: Feb 13, 2022
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