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- PublicationNew structures, forms and processes of governance in European industrial relationsThe study aims to provide new information on the impact of new governance tools on the different actors of the European system of industrial relations – European institutions, governments and European social partners. Furthermore, it endeavours to: promote awareness and understanding of the new forms of governance and their impact on the different levels of industrial relations in the European Union; contribute to the ongoing debate on the Europeanisation of industrial relations in the context of the modernisation of employment relations and the evolving role of the social partners in an enlarged EU, especially against the background of the Lisbon agenda; contribute to the transparency of the results of new forms of governance in European industrial relations; and examine the interrelationship between the different levels of industrial relations as well as between different tools of new governance, such as European social dialogue and the open method of coordination.
- 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.
- PublicationHow To Analyse A Supranational Regime That Nationalises Social Conflict? The European Crisis, Labour Politics and Methodological Nationalism(Cambridge University Press, 2019-07)After the adoption of the so-called Six-Pack of EU laws on economic governance in 2011, EU interventions retrenched social welfare and collective labour rights in almost all EU member states. This chapter therefore aims to contribute to a better understanding of the EU's economic governance regime (NEG) and the conceptual, methodological and political questions that it is raising.
- PublicationI sindacati europei dopo la crisi globaleLa crisi e le sue ripercussioni sul discorso ideologico neoliberista. Per il professore irlandese la sostituzione graduale della democrazia con modalità tecnocratiche di governance non è inevitabile. Ma a condizione che i lavoratori organizzati, dal canto loro, sappiano ripoliticizzare il processo decisionale pubblico. Una prospettiva che sappia coniugare radicalità e pragmatismo. Una prospettiva neo-polanyiana, volta a ripristinare il primato della società sull'economia. I conflitti sindacali dovrebbero potere nuovamente crescere in una prospettiva di 'risorgenza del conflitto di classe'.
- 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.
Scopus© Citations 25 357
- PublicationEuropean Unions after the Global Crisis(UCD Dublin European Institute, 2011-05)The economic and financial crisis has discredited the idea of a self-regulating market. Yet, it remains to be seen what measures society will be taking to protect itself against future fallouts of global markets. There is a growing consensus that the economy needs to be governed by tighter regulations. But this does not necessarily mean that the economy will be subordinated to democratic politics. Nevertheless, the paper concludes that any fatalism about the prospects of a democratic counter-movement against the marketisation of society is misplaced. Without doubt, the first reactions to the crisis – namely the huge bailouts for private banks and the subsequent cutbacks in public services – do not augur well for the future of labour and egalitarian democracy. Conversely, the more socio-economic decisions are taken by tangible political and corporate elites rather than abstract market forces, the more difficult it is to mystify underlying business interests. The more visible business interests become, however, the easier it will be for social movements and trade unions to mobilise discontent and to politicise the economy.
- PublicationThe European Union. A Significant Player in Labour PolicymakingGrasping the European Union’s (EU) increasingly important role in labour policymaking across member states is not an easy task. It is not enough to untangle the complex set of EU institutions, laws, and policies in the field. It is equally important to consider the impact of the European integration process on the balance of power between capital and labour interests. This chapter thus first presents the relevant actors and the way in which they intervene in EU labour policymaking. Then we outline how the EU influenced labour policymaking from the start of the European integration process. This includes an analysis of its internal market programme and monetary union, which exposed workers and businesses to increased horizontal market integration pressures. We also discuss the much more vertical country-specific policy prescriptions that the EU began issuing annually after the 2008 financial crisis. Finally, we outline the recent Covid-19 pandemic and consequent developments.
- PublicationWhat factors are driving the increasing number of transnational labour protests in Europe (1997-2019)?This paper is based on a new database of 355 transnational socioeconomic protest events in Europe reported by labor-related newsletters, websites, and specialized media outlets from 1997 to 2020. Although the strength of European unions has been declining during this period, the number of transnational socioeconomic protests increased from 62 (1997-2002) to 121 (2015-2020). Our database enables us to test two structural hypotheses for this rise, namely an economic and a political one. Our findings confirm that the exposure to horizontal, competitive economic pressures within an ever more integrated European marketplace cannot explain the rise of transnational socioeconomic protest since 1997. Instead, our figures suggest that increased vertical political integration pressures by supranational EU authorities and corporate headquarters of multinational firms are driving the increasing salience of transnational socioeconomic protest.
- PublicationThe Citizens' Initiative and Referendum: Direct Democracy in 5 Countries of EuropeThe reports which we present here were gathered to illustrate the progress of five European countries in developing governance beyond the purely indirect, "representative" sort. Many citizens of western style societies where democracy is practised are dissatisfied with the limited participation allowed when, as is usually the case, voting and ballots are only for political parties and candidates, never about "issues", matters of real public concern. We will show how, within a few hundred miles of Britain's shores, "ordinary" people have for many decades been able to intervene in government, at local and state levels, on issues which they judge to be vital and which they have selected; when need be, directing their elected politicians with decisions of the whole electorate. The London conference – see "Acknowledgements" – which contributed to this publication had two aims, firstly to supply knowledge about how direct democracy works in places where it is established or at least well known. The examples chosen were four countries of western Europe and one "postcommunist" country of eastern Europe. The history of direct democracy, levels of governance involved and legal regulation of direct democratic procedures vary among the different countries. The second aim of our conference was to stimulate a debate about the future role of direct democracy in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Why did we select the countries and democracies chosen as examples? The Netherlands because it is quite similar to Britain, e.g. it is a "constitutional" monarchy. The Dutch, like the British, have little experience of direct democracy. But, in contrast, there has been some direct democratic innovation in the large, capital city, Amsterdam, whose parliament recently voted unanimously to introduce citizens' initiative and referendum. Poland because, even under the rapidly changing social and political conditions of the last decade, significant components of direct democracy have been available to citizens, and are being used, from the country level to the village. The development of post-war Germany has been heavily influence by lessons of history. One indication of this is the importance given to their "basic law" of constitution, which regulates governance and democracy. For many outsiders it is surprising to learn that there is extensive practice of direct democracy in the federal states (Lands), cities and districts. There is a strong movement to protect these democratic rights and to improve them, prime examples being Bavaria and Hamburg. Italy's direct democracy is special and in one way shows citizens' direct democracy in its strongest form. It is special for instance because it is "only" abrogative, that is the referendum cannot be used to make a new law ("propositional" direct democracy) but can only strike out an existing one, or part(s) of it. It is strong because here we have the best example, at least in Europe, of legally binding, citizen-initiated law-making at the country level. At all levels of governance Switzerland combines the direct with the indirect. A wealth of experience of over a hundred years shows direct democracy as public participation, with widespread deliberation of proposals and laws, a strong sense of civic stake-holding plus a reliance on the ultimate and in some cases direct authority of the people in matters of state. There is a tradition of consensus seeking among citizens' groups, non-governmental organisations, lobbyists, trade-unions, parliaments and governments. All of this can fascinate and astound some of us who take our main experience of political life from purely indirect ("representative") democratic, or from frankly undemocratic, systems. Thousands of political problems, proposals and conflicts, from the federal constitution to village traffic, have been deliberated and decided upon in procedures such as citizens' initiative and facultative referendum – the veto. During Sunday we heard talks by experts and practitioners of direct democracy from all of these countries. For Britain a proposal to introduce elements of direct democracy such as citizens' initiative (law-proposal), obligatory debate of endorsed proposals in parliament or council, and citizentriggered referendum for decision-making, was presented. Having learned how things are done elsewhere, we held a workshop to discuss the future of direct democracy in Britain. Those who came were interested, had good questions and made some proposals for further action. These vital facts about democracy – rule by the people – have been concealed from the British people by politicians, controllers of mass media, academics, school teachers and other "elites". A blend of self-interested censorship combined with apathy braced by the arrogance, that "We" run our affairs better, has kept effective and exciting developments in citizen-run politics well away from news headlines, lead stories, peak-time broadcasts, school curricula and university studies. Although our "Reader" primarily addresses residents and citizens of the British Isles we sincerely hope that people in other countries will study our account of exemplary democracies striving to approach "state of the art".