9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Professions on the Move: Migration and Flexibility Building I, Auditório 1

Harmonizing occupational regulation in the EU transport sector: institutions, participants, and outcomes

Since the 1990's entry requirements of a growing number of transport occupations are subject to harmonization at European level (air traffic controller, train crew, boatmaster etc.). The core intent of this occupational harmonization in terms of training and certification is to ease transnational, safety-critical transport service.
Our contribution analyzes three characteristics of this Community rule-making: institutions, participation, and outcomes. The characteristics are treated taking train drivers and aircraft maintenance technicians as privileged cases. These occupations represent the two contrasting frameworks of the European occupational harmonization observed so far.
The two case studies provide evidence that up to now no uniform regulatory model has institutionalized. Instead, a model of technically focused regulation (ex: aircraft technician) can be distinguished from a model of socially negotiated regulation (ex: train driver). In the first model, the essential criterion legitimizing rules is "safety"; the codes are ultimately fixed by a competent European authority. In the social regulation model, by contrast, the common occupational norms are established by way of industrial bargaining between European employer and trade union federations. In this model, cost moderation of the new rules is of high priority.
In each model a specific principle of participant selection is applied. In the social regulation model the participation of an association formally depends on its "representativeness". In the model of technical regulation, by contrast, associations are typically co-opted by virtue of "technical expertise". It will be shown that both principles are weakened by lobbing operations of professional organizations.
Finally, the outcomes of the regulation process are by no means uniform. Most notably, both occupational cases diverge in relation to the inter-firm portability of the permit to practice. Further differences refer to density, scope and rigidity of the rules. We will discuss this overall heterogeneity in the light of the classical debate on the basic motivation of occupational regulation: ensuring quality vs. restricting competition (Kleiner, 2006).