The fast rate of the globalisation process and huge technological changes are leading to increased uncertainty. Risk (considered either as a threat or as an opportunity) is correlated to uncertainty. That means that the socio-economic environment may be considered as ambiguous, and the reaction of players complex, unforeseeable and difficult to handle. In such conditions one looks for simple formulae or tricks to manage the necessary change in human behaviour, institutional structures, production and trade methods. ‘Flexibility’ seems to be a magic keyword – both a performance driver and an expression of freedom. Labour market flexibility is currently the focus of ideological and political debate. This paper aims to clarify some points in the debate, especially in the European Union context. First, we give some brief information about the EU framework with regard to the labour market flexibility and its performance. Second, we try to understand how labour market flexibility is dependent on decisions of enterprises (in search of competitiveness). But this point of view needs to be enlarged to a more systemic approach; flexibility is only one of the socio-economic performance variables. A flexibility paradigm is related to a new political and humanistic project, and is a serious consideration for a number of industrial and financial companies, scientific associations and bodies.