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- PublicationIs the European Semester Really Being Socialised? Rethinking the European Union's New Economic Governance Regime and Labour PoliticsOne of the key responses from the European Union (EU) to the global financial and sovereign debt crises has been to overhaul its economic governance regime. The former Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, went even as far as to label the shift to the EU’s New Economic Governance (NEG) regime a ‘silent revolution’. In this paper, we propose a new approach for the analysis of NEG and examine the question whether we are really witnessing a progressive socialisation of its policy content, as an emerging literature claims. We do this through three key steps. The first step is to offer a new way of thinking about the institutional structure of the NEG regime, especially the so-called European Semester, which, thus far, has primarily reflected the EU’s own understanding of it across various academic literatures. The second step is to propose a methodological innovation in how to evaluate the policy orientations and prescriptions stemming from the NEG regime. Whereas most studies about the EU’s Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) treat each prescription as equal, as if they exist in an institutional vacuum, we instead take into account the varying degrees of constraint that are attributable to NEG prescriptions as they relate to the broader institutional structure they are embedded within. Hence, the more precise and enforceable a NEG prescription is the more significant it becomes. Furthermore, our analysis also accounts for the location member states find themselves in across the uneven but deeply integrated European political economy, as otherwise similar NEG policy prescriptions can take on very different meanings from differentiated positions within this structured environment. This allows us, in a third step, to apply our conceptual and methodological innovations to a contextualised analysis of close to 100 NEG document issued between 2009-2018 for the Eurozone as a whole, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Romania, i.e. for different locations of the EU’s uneven but deeply integrated political economy. Focusing on policy areas affecting labour politics, including wages, labour markets and collective bargaining, our findings demonstrate that there has not been a progressive socialisation of the Semester. Instead, a pro-business policy paradigm is still dominant over any social(ising) considerations. We therefore conclude our paper with some reflections that problematise these dissonances and discuss possible future (research) orientations on the EU’s NEG regime and labour politics.
- PublicationThere is little evidence the EU’s post-crisis economic governance regime has moved in a more ‘social’ directionFollowing the 2008 financial crisis, the European Union adopted a new economic governance regime. As Jamie Jordan, Vincenzo Maccarrone and Roland Erne explain, some scholars have argued that this new regime places greater emphasis on social objectives. Drawing on a new study of labour policy interventions in Germany, Ireland, Italy and Romania between 2009 and 2019, they demonstrate that this is not the case, with EU interventions continuing to be shaped by a liberalisation agenda.
- PublicationTowards a Socialisation of the EU’s New Economic Governance Regime? EU labour policy interventions in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Romania (2009-2019)In response to the last recession, the European Union (EU) adopted a new economic governance regime (NEG). An influential stream of EU social policy literature argues that there has been more emphasis on social objectives in the NEG regime in more recent years. This article shows that this is not the case. It does so through an in-depth analysis of NEG prescriptions in wage, employment protection and collective bargaining policy in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Romania between 2009 and 2019. Our main conclusion is that the EU’s interventions in these three industrial relations policy areas continue to be dominated by a liberalisation agenda that is commodifying labour, albeit to a different degree across the uneven but nonetheless integrated European political economy. This finding is important, as countervailing transnational trade union is the more likely, the more there is a common threat. Even so, our contextualised analysis also enables us to detect contradictions that could provide European labour movements opportunities to pursue countervailing action.
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