Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • Publication
    Healthcare Reforms and Fiscal Discipline in Europe: Responsibility or Responsiveness?
    This paper asks how governments across Europe have responded to the dilemma between financial responsibility and political responsiveness against the background of heightened fiscal pressure. Focusing on the domestic politics of healthcare reforms in four contrasted cases (England, France, Hungary, and Ireland), we investigate how governments frame and legitimize these reforms. We find that references to input legitimacy vary greatly according to prevailing values of governments and party politics in the respective national realms. With regard to output legitimacy, efficiency and financial sustainability tend to prevail over concerns related to quality in those countries that are more affected by debt. Across all cases, governments rely on an instrumentalist conception of throughput legitimacy, meaning that they use consultation with different stakeholders as a way to prevent adverse politicization and to support their framing of the reforms.
      388Scopus© Citations 4
  • Publication
    Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives
    Under 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.
      144Scopus© Citations 6
  • Publication
    Professionals on the road to contention: Social movement unionism in healthcare labour disputes across Europe
    (Sage, 2020-02-28)
    The recent upsurge in healthcare labour disputes across Europe signals a shift in the attitude of public service professionals towards contentious politics. However, the analysis of these events so far has neglected the specific dilemmas of contention among professionals. To fill this gap, the article builds on social movements theory and claims that to achieve success, professional organizations adjust the protest repertoire of the labour movement along the three dimensions of targeting, framing and coordination. As an alternative to mass strikes, the targeted use of the protest repertoire minimizes the costs and maximizes the visibility of collective action. Framing around service quality links wage demands to wider justification themes that resonate with the public. Coordination across groups with different skill levels strengthens the effect of both targeting and framing. A comparative study of four healthcare campaigns in four countries (Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland) confirms the key role that these dimensions play.
      538Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Trade unions and the sovereign power of the state. A comparative analysis of employer offensives in the Danish and Irish public sectors
    (Sage, 2018-05-01)
    The changing composition of trade unions has far-reaching consequences for the relationship between unions and the polity. In particular, the concentration of trade union membership in the public sector – a process that has been taking place in most EU countries – implies a shift away from collective agreements towards legislation as the dominant way of managing employment relations. Pluralist models of collective bargaining assume a neutral, mediating role of the state, but in the public sector the state by definition acts as an employer as well. The state is equipped with the sovereign power to circumvent traditional bargaining agreements and force its will upon trade unions through legislation. The article investigates major bargaining disputes in Europe after 2008, focusing on two countries (Ireland and Denmark) that have different political environments and that, although affected differently by the financial crisis, underwent similar government interventions in labour relations. The findings suggest that a shift towards legislation is a tendency that affects all types of industrial relations systems.
    Scopus© Citations 6  692
  • Publication
    Explaining the unequal success of the “Right2Water” and the “Fair Transport” European Citizens’ Initiative
    (University College Dublin, 2020-12) ; ;
    In 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).
  • Publication
    The EU's New Economic Governance prescriptions for German, Irish, Italian and Romanian public transport and water services from 2009 to 2019
    (University College Dublin, 2021-09) ; ;
    After 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.
  • Publication
    The European Governance of the Water Sector – Contentious Policy Agendas Triggering Transnational Reactions
    (European Research Council, 2019-08-30)
    The provision of clean drinking water and sanitation are social policy fields that are under pressure from a combination of fiscal, environmental and social crises. The role of transnational politics in governing water through these crises is however often overlooked. The proposed paper addresses this gap by following the evolution of the European governance of the water sector. Relying on the analysis of legal principles and policy ideas (present in EU law, European Semester documents as well as policy publications), the paper seeks to uncover the changing balance between the decommodification of water services through the harmonization of environmental and quality standards on the one hand, and the commodification of water services through liberalizing reforms on the other. While water was eventually excluded from the “Services Directive”, the threat of liberalization played a significant role in the European right2water campaigns. Furthermore, the paper looks at alternative ways towards commodification, embedded in environmental and public procurement rules, and most importantly in the EU’s New Economic Governance framework. The paper also aims to identify the conditions under which countermovements were able to politicize these interventions and influence water policy-making at the EU level.
  • Publication
    Handmaids of transnational democracy? EU politicization and citizens’ initiatives by trade unions
    (Orders Beyond Borders, 2022-02-15) ; ;
    The 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.
  • Publication
    Radikal Verantwortungsvoll – Die Irische Krankenpflegerstreik von 2019
    (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, 2020-12)
    Die Krise der öffentlichen Daseinsvorsorge steht in direktem Zusammenhang mit der Krise der Gewerkschaften. Da die gewerkschaftlichen Mitglieder in vielen Industrieländern vor allem im öffentlichen Sektor zu finden sind, ist die Kürzung öffentlicher Ausgaben im Zuge der Austeritätspolitik gleichzeitig ein Angriff auf die letzten Gewerkschaftsbastionen. Doch gegen diese Entwicklung regt sich erfolgreich Widerstand: So etwa in Irland, der kapitalistischen Vorzeigeökonomie des 21. Jahrhunderts, wo Pflegekräfte 2019 einen landesweiten Streik ausriefen.
  • Publication
    Politicising Commodification: European Governance and Labour Politics from the Financial Crisis to the Covid Emergency
    This book examines the new economic governance (NEG) regime that the EU adopted after 2008. Its novel research design captures the supranational formulation of NEG prescriptions and their uneven deployment across countries (Germany, Italy, Ireland, Romania), policy areas (employment relations, public services), and sectors (transport, water, healthcare). NEG led to a much more vertical mode of EU integration, and its commodification agenda unleashed a plethora of union and social-movement protests, including transnationally. The book presents findings that are crucial for the prospects of European democracy, as labour politics is essential in framing the struggles about the direction of NEG along a commodification–decommodification axis rather than a national–EU axis. To shed light on corresponding processes at EU level, it upscales insights on the historical role that labour movements have played in the development of democracy and welfare states.