Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    The European Union. A Significant Player in Labour Policymaking
    Grasping 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.
  • Publication
    Dalla crisi finanziaria alla pandemia di Covid-19: un lungo Semestre per i diritti dei lavoratori
    In response to the 2008 financial crisis, the EU adopted a new economic governance regime. In response to the Covid pandemic, NEG is set to change again. To understand the EU’s response to the current pandemic crisis, however, we must first understand NEG. This article therefore analyses NEG and its relevance for labour politics. It does so through an in-depth analysis of NEG prescriptions on wage, employment protection and collective bargaining policy in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Romania between 2009 and 2019. In contrast to supporters of the «socialization thesis», our main conclusion is that over the last decade the EU’s interventions in these three industrial relations policy areas continued to be dominated by a liberalization agenda that is commodifying labour, albeit to a different degree across the uneven European political economy. Even so, our contextualised analysis also enables us to detect contradictions that could provide European labour movements with opportunities to pursue countervailing action.
  • 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
    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
    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
    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.
  • Publication
    Introduction: Politicizing the Transnational
    Labor movements have always found it difficult to reveal and transform the social relations that constitute markets. The growing transnational movements of goods, capital, and services in themselves have therefore not triggered closer trade union cooperation across borders. Transnational collective action also requires conscious choices and a mutual understanding that solidarity across borders is warranted. For this reason, this special issue of Labor History assesses the role that politicization processes play in triggering transnational union action.
      710Scopus© Citations 7
  • Publication
    A Fairer Europe for Workers…Or Else? Some observations from the ETUC Congress 2019, Vienna, 21–24 May 2019
    (Sage, 2019-10-31)
    Under the banner A Fairer Europe for Workers, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) held its 14th congress in Vienna on 21–24 May 2019. The congress, attended by over 600 union delegates from across the EU, took place under the shadow of Brexit and imminent European Parliament elections and against the backdrop of a national political crisis in Austria. On the eve of the congress the Austrian government was plunged into crisis when a sting operation conducted by German media unveiled the true nature of extreme right-wing politics and its willingness to sell an integral pillar of a functioning democracy, namely freedom of the press, in return for financial and political favours. Trade unions are only too aware of the threat to democratic values that extreme right-wing populism brings. This threat can also be extended to an anti-social EU, which under an austerity agenda has curtailed the bargaining power of unions, a cornerstone of European democracies. Themes addressed at the congress included, in no particular order, the need for a new social contract to address the structural flaws in the EU’s monetary policy, climate change and a just transition, socio-economic inequalities and how to counter xenophobic right-wing Euroscepticism, digitalisation and the gig economy, and workplace democracy.
      503Scopus© 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.
      149Scopus© Citations 6
  • Publication
    A Primordial Attachment to the Nation? French and Irish Workers and Trade Unions in Past EU Referendum Debates
    We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics that are driving EU politicisation and the rising Euroscepticism of workers and unions in the public sphere. One explanation frames the rise in Euroscepticism in cultural terms, emphasising workers' alleged primordial attachment to their nation. A second uses socio-economic frames, linking growing Euroscepticism to the increasingly neo-liberal direction of the EU. The weight of these competing frames in the referendum campaigns on the EU Constitution in France and the Lisbon Treaty and the Fiscal Treaty in Ireland cannot be measured easily, as the categorisation of a phrase as socio-economic or cultural is in itself subject to political classification struggles. We therefore presents the findings of an inductive lexical analysis of all Irish Times, all Le Monde and all worker- or union-related articles published in almost all national media outlets during the mentioned referendum debates. This was made possible by the Alceste software package that allowed us to analyse very large corpuses of articles inductively. Our analysis reveals that socio-economic terms dominated policy debates in both countries. The findings question existing EU politicisation studies that were measuring the salience of different frame types by deductive analysis. 
      619Scopus© Citations 8