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- PublicationExplaining the unequal success of the “Right2Water” and the “Fair Transport” European Citizens’ InitiativeIn this paper, we move beyond methodological nationalist frames of reference that dominate our field andinvestigate the conditions under which transnational, cross-border labour mobilization in reaction to European integration emerges and becomes successful. We build on previous research that pointed out the continued presence of transnational labour solidarity in the wake of the Eurocrisis and the EU’s New Economic Governance regime(Bieler and Erne 2014; Erne et al2015; Erne 2019;Parks 2015). Here, we compare two transnational campaigns launched by European trade union federations. The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) coordinated the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative on the Right to Water (R2W ECI) in 2012-2013. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) followed suit in 2015 with its own initiative on “Fair Transport” but failed to collect the necessary number of signatures that is required before EU institutions will formally engage with the demands of the initiative. Both of these campaigns fell outside the scope of traditionally defined union mobilization (e.g. strikes or demonstrations). Therefore,they can be considered not only as transnational but also as innovative actions that took advantage of new instruments of direct democracy at the EU-level(Erne and Blaser 2018).
- PublicationThe EU's New Economic Governance prescriptions for German, Irish, Italian and Romanian public transport and water services from 2009 to 2019After the success of the single market programme, the European Commission’s attempts to commodify public services had run out of steam by the mid-2000s. After 2008, however, a new economic governance (NEG) regime provided the Commission with a new policymaking tool and allowed a tight integration of the SMP with the enhanced rules of the economic and monetary union (EMU). Whereas the European Parliament was able to curb the Commission’s commodifying bent through legislative amendments in the 2000s, the EU’s NEG prescriptions do not require parliamentary approval. This made it more difficult for labour movements, and their allies in the European Parliament, to contest them. Our detailed analysis of the EU prescriptions on public transport and water services from 2009 to 2019 for Germany, Ireland, Italy and Romania thus shows that the shift from the EU’s ordinary legislative procedures to NEG neither made EU politics more social nor more democratic.
- PublicationHandmaids of transnational democracy? EU politicization and citizens’ initiatives by trade unionsThe politicisation of Europe is not a one-way street where transnational pressures can only trigger nationalist counter-reactions. While the odds are indeed stacked against transnational democratic mobilizations, there is scope for (successful) action. In our recent article, we look at the role of trade unions in using transnational direct democracy to politicise European integration. To this end, we compare two trade union-coordinated European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI), on the Right to Water and on Fair Transport. Whereas the former was a success, the latter was not. To explain the difference in outcomes we point to both actor-centred and structural factors.
- PublicationWhy Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' InitiativesUnder what conditions can organized labour successfully politicize the European integration process across borders? To answer this question, we compare the European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECIs) of two European trade union federations: EPSU’s successful Right2Water ECI and ETF’s unsuccessful Fair Transport ECI. Our comparison reveals that actor-centred factors matter – namely, unions’ ability to create broad coalitions. Successful transnational labour campaigns, however, also depend on structural conditions, namely, the prevailing mode of EU integration pressures faced by unions at a given time. Whereas the Right2Water ECI pre-emptively countered commodification attempts by the European Commission in water services, the Fair Transport ECI attempted to ensure fair working conditions after most of the transport sector had been liberalized. Vertical EU integration attempts that commodify public services are thus more likely to generate successful transnational counter-movements than the horizontal integration pressures on wages and working conditions that followed earlier successful EU liberalization drives.
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