In public debate today on the future of labour, it becomes clear that social policies and their implementing legislation will have to adapt to more open and competitive markets, and to a way of organizing production that is at one and the same time more complex, segmented and dependent on new techniques. It is difficult indeed to question the need for adjusting the labour law provisions to the new systems of production information and communication. The problem is therefore not so much to know if, but how the remodelling takes place. Bringing social policies up to date re-ignites the debate on the optimal synthesis between the guarantees given to workers, job creation, and competitiveness, or in other words, between development and the values and rights that a given national community holds dear.
This paper focuses on the difficulties the standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are facing today, in front of the set of economic and social crises that have occurred for more than two decades, especially the one that part of Europe is facing today. I will first examine the main impediments to the implementation of the international labour standards. I will then identify innovative ways of adapting them.