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'Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe Across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives

Szabó, I. G., Golden, D. and Erne, R. (2022) 'Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe Across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives'. Journal of Common Market Studies, 60 (3): 634-652.

Abstract:

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.

This article has also been popularised in the London School of Economics and Political Science’s EUROPP Blog, the WZB Berlin Social Science Center Blog, the Journal of Common Market Studies Blog and in the TraPoCo blog.

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