Title: European Unions after the Crisis   (PDF 4.5MB)

Author(s): Roland Erne

Paper number and date: WP 11-1, May 2011

Abstract: 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.

Key Words: great recession; global financial crisis; bank bailouts; counter-movements; Karl Polanyi; Michael Burawoy; Colin Crouch; neo-liberalism, privatised Keynesianism; postdemocracy; European Union; trade unions; social movements; regulatory agencies; technocracy; countervailing interests, transnational collective action


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