Prof. Roland Erne’s ERC Project ‘Labour Politic and the EU’s New Economic Governance Regime (European Unions)’ assesses the impact of the EU's New Economic Governance regime (NEG) on employment relations and the provision of healthcare, water, and transport services, as well as the feedback effects on NEG caused by countervailing collective action of labour movements.

Trade unions play a major role in democratic interest intermediation. This role, however, is threatened by the much more vertical nature of NEG interventions since 2009. This project aims not only to assess the shifts in EU governance caused by NEG and its effects on employment relations across countries (Germany, Italy, Ireland, Romania) and public service areas (healthcare, water and transport services), but also to create new methodological approaches that are able to account for the interplay between EU economic governance, labour politics and European democracy.

Until recently, European labour politics has mainly been shaped by horizontal market integration through the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. Since the crisis in 2008, the latter has been complemented by ‘vertical integration’ (Erne 2018) effected through the direct surveillance of member states. The resulting NEG opens contradictory possibilities for labour movements. On the one hand, the reliance of the NEG on vertical surveillance makes decisions taken in its name more tangible, offering concrete targets for contentious transnational collective action. On the other hand, the NEG mimics the governance structures of multinational firms, by using key performance indicators that put countries in competition with one another (Erne 2015). This constitutes a deterrent to transnational collective action. The NEG’s interventionist and competitive strains also pose the threat of nationalist counter-movements, thus making this research on (trans-)national collective action ever more vital for the future of EU integration and democracy.

The project has the following objectives:

  1. To understand the interrelation between the EU’s new ‘vertical’ and existing ‘horizontal’ economic governance and shifts in labour politics triggered by the EU’s NEG;
  2. To open up novel analytical approaches that are able to capture both national and transnational social processes at work;
  3. To analyse the responses of established unions and new social movements to NEG in different areas of labour politics, economic sectors and governance levels, and their feedback effects on NEG;
  4. To develop a new scientific paradigm capable of accounting for the interplay between EU economic governance, labour politics, and EU democracy.


Further information here and here 

Prof Roland Erne, UCD School of Business, Professor of European Integration and Employment Relations, and Principal Investigator

Dr Sabina Stan, UCD School of Business, ERC Senior Social Scientist, and Assistant Professor at the DCU School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health
Dr Darragh Golden, UCD School of Business, ERC Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Jörg Nowak, UCD School of Business, ERC Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Imre Szabó, UCD School of Business, ERC Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Bianca Föhrer, UCD School of Business, ERC Project Manager

Costanza Galanti, UCD School of Business and Dep. of Sociology, University of Padua, ERC PhD Student

Mary Naughton, UCD School of Business, ERC PhD Student

Dr Vincenzo Maccarrone, UCD School of Business, ERC Research Assistant

Dr Jamie Jordan, UCD School of Business, IRC Postdoctoral Researcher (2017-2018) (now Deputy Agent, East Midlands, at the Bank of England)


Publications and other outputs: ,

Keynote lectures:

Erne, R. (2019) 'Vertical and Horizontal Integration. The EU's New Economic Governance Regime and countervailing collective action'. International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) European Congress , Düsseldorf, Germany, 5 September.

Erne, R. (2018) 'Labour Politics and the EU's new economic governance regime. Methodological innovations and challenges for our European Research Council project '. Industrial Relations in Europe Conference (IREC) 2018 , Leuven, Belgium, 10 September.

Erne, R. (2018) 'La politique du travail et la nouvelle gouvernance économique européenne '. Study Days of the Association Francaise de Sociologie (AFS) and the Groupement d'Interet Scientifiques (GESTES), Paris, France, 6 September.

Stan, S. (2019) 'Europe as a transnational health care space'. 3rd Health Benefits Convention , Vienna, Austria, 18 December.

Featured publications:

Jordan, J., Maccarrone, V. and Erne, R. (2020) 'Towards a Socialisation of the EU's New Economic Governance Regime? EU labour policy interventions in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Romania (2009-2019). British Journal of Industrial Relations, doi: 10.1111/bjir.12522. Full text .

Erne, R. (2019) 'How To Analyse A Supranational Regime That Nationalises Social Conflict? The European Crisis, Labour Politics and Methodological Nationalism', in: Nanopoulos, E. and Vergis, F. (eds.) The Crisis Behind the Euro-Crisis: The Euro-Crisis as Systemic Multi-Dimensional Crisis of the EU . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 346-368. Full text .

Erne, R. (2018) 'Labour Politics and the EU's New Economic Governance Regime (European Unions): A new European Research Council project'. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 24 (2): 237-247. Full text .

Other selected publications:

Béthoux, E., Erne, R., Golden, D. (2018) 'A primordial attachment to the nation? French and Irish workers and trade unions in past EU referendum debates'. British Journal of Industrial Relations 56 (3): 656-678. Full text .

Erne, R. (2020) 'Interest Groups', in: Caramani, D. (ed.) Comparative Politics (5th ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 252-266.

Erne, R. (2019) 'Social Movements or State Apparatus?' In: Kiess, J. M. and Seeliger, M. (eds.) Trade Unions and European Integration: A Question of Optimism and Pessimism? New York: Routledge, pp. 259-266. Full text available from 14 Dec 2020.

Erne, R. (2019) 'Labour Politics and the EU's New Economic Governance Regime: Methodological Challenges and Innovations of a New Research Agenda', Bulletin of Comparative Labour Relations - Employment Relations in the 21st century: Challenges for Theory and Research in a Changing World of Work , Vol. 107. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, pp. 93-98. Full text not available.

Erne, R. and Blaser, M. (2018) 'Direct Democracy and Trade Union Action'. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 24 (2): 217-232. Full text .

Föhrer, B., Erne, R. and Finlay, G. (2019) 'Transnational Competence: A Transformative Tool? A Comparison of German and Irish Political Trade Union Education Programs', Labour Studies Journal, doi: 10.1177/0160449X19894388. Full text .

Golden, D. (2019) 'A Fairer Europe For Workers... Or Else? Some observations from the ETUC Congress 2019, Vienna, 21-24 May 2019'. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 25 (4): 489-493.

Maccarrone, V., Erne, R., Regan, A. (2019) 'Ireland: life after social partnership'. In: Müller, T., Vandaele, K. and Waddington, J. (eds.) Collective bargaining in Europe: towards an endgame. Brussels: ETUI, pp. 315-335. Full text .

Mainil, T. and Stan, S. (2019) 'Transnational Health Care'. In: Winnett, R. et al. (eds) Health Care Social Work: A Global Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 42-57. Full text .

Stan, S. (2018) 'Neoliberal citizenship and the politics of corruption: redefining informal exchange in Romanian healthcare'. In: Carrier, J. (eds) Economy, Crime and Wrong in a Neoliberal Era. EASA, 32. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 172-194. Full text .

Stan, S. and Toma, V. V. (2018) 'Accumulation by Dispossession and Public-Private Biomedical Pluralism in Romanian Health Care'. Medical Anthropology 38 (1): 85-99. Full text .

Szabó, I. (2020) 'Professionals on the road to contention: Social movement unionism in healthcare labour disputes across Europe', Economic and Industrial Democracy , doi: 10.1177/0143831X20903090.

Szabó, I. (2018) 'Trade unions and the sovereign power of the state. A comparative analysis of employer offensives in the Danish and Irish public sectors'. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 24 (2): 163-178. Full text .

Selected working papers:

Stan, S. and Erne, R. (2018/2019) ‘A new methodology for analysing NEG prescriptions on healthcare. From counting CSRs to mapping semantic fields’, Working Paper 18-03, ERC Project ‘European Unions’, University College Dublin. Available at: .

Stan, S. and Erne, R. (2019) ‘The New Economic Governance in Health Care: A Labour Perspective’, Working Paper 19-04, ERC Project ‘European Unions’, University College Dublin. Available at: .

Szabó, I. (2019) ‘The European Governance of the Water Sector – Contentious Policy Agendas Triggering Transnational Reactions’, Working Paper 19-05, ERC Project ‘European Unions’, University College

Dublin. Available at: .

Policy/Industry/Public engagement:

Please include links to

Jordan, J., Maccarrone, V. and Erne, R. (2020) ’There is little evidence the EU’s post-crisis economic governance regime has moved in a more ‘social’ direction’. LSE EUROPP blog, 6 April. Available here .

Béthoux, E., Erne, R., Golden, D. (2019) ’ Les syndicats ont-ils été oubliés de la campagne européenne?’ The Conversation blog, 22 May. Available here .

Erne, R. (2019) ‘Recht haben und Recht bekommen ist nicht dasselbe‘. Links – Magazine of the Swiss Social Democratic Party, 18 April. Available here .

Erne, R. (2019) ‘Die Kampage „Löhne statt Grenzen schützen!“ Zum Rahmenvertrag Schweiz – EU’. Institute of Economic & Social Research (WSI) blog, 18 April. Available here.

McCall, B. (2018) ‘New research to focus on impact of EU policy on labour movements’. The Irish Times, 15 March. Available here .

Public ERC project launch event, 13 March 2018. Video here.

Goodwin, H. (2017) ‘EUI alumnus wins ERC grant’. Life – European University Institute (EUI) Newsletter, 19 December. Available here.

Teaching and Training:

The PI of the ERC project, Roland Erne, is Professor of European Integration & Employment Relations at UCD and Adjunct Professor at Cornell's Industrial & Labor Relations School. In these roles, he a) coordinates and teaches 1 under- and 1 postgraduate module at UCD; b) coordinates the joint Semester in Dublin programme with the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University, which is described as an exemplar of the kind of collaboration which UCD should increase its engagement in; c) organises the UCD-Cornell student fieldtrips to the EUI and the SNS in Florence as well as to the EU institutions, Business Europe, and the European Trade Union Confederation in Brussels.


Sacchetto, D. (2020) 'Shaping labour markets in the EU. The 'new' skills of migrant workers'. Public seminar, UCD, Dublin, 27 January.

Moore, M. (2019) ‘Wellsprings of Resistance - Struggles over water in Europe’. Book launch, SIPTU, Dublin, 12 November.

ERC Workshop: Labour Politics and the EU's New Economic Governance Regime'. EUI, Florence, 28-30 October 2019. The team discussed their first project findings with S. Bartolini, B. Laffan, P. Schmitter, A. Héritier (EUI); G. Meardi, L. Cini (SNS); M. Dawson (Hertie School); and D. Sacchetto (Padova).

Erne, R. (2019) ‘The Multinational Firm - The Archetype for the New EU Governance Regime?’ Spring Seminar Series, UCD, Dublin, 12 June.

Stan, S., Szabó, I. and Golden, D. ‘Trade Union Perspectives on the EU's New Economic Governance in Healthcare and Water Services’. Fringe meeting with Clivia Conrad (ver.di, Germany) and Razvan Gae (Sanitas, Romania) at the 10th European Public Service Union (EPSU) Congress, Dublin, Ireland, 5 June.

Seeleib-Kaiser, M. (2019) ‘EU Citizenship, Freedom of Movement and Social Protection’. Spring Seminar Series, UCD, Dublin, 30 May.

Jabko, N. (2019) ‘Contested Governance - The New Repertoire of the Eurozone Crisis’. Spring Seminar Series, UCD, Dublin, 15 May.

Joerges, C. (2019) ‘"Das Recht hört hier auf" (The Law Runs Out Here) - European Law after the Turn to New Modes of Economic Governance’. Spring Seminar Series, UCD, Dublin, 20 March.

Kaasch, A. (2019) ‘European Health Policies in a Global Social Policy Context’. Spring Seminar Series, UCD, Dublin, 6 March.

International public seminar on the special issue 24-2, 2018 of the Sage journal Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research entitled ‘Trade unions and the polity: agendas and alliances’, UCD, Dublin, 11 October 2018.

Public ERC project launch event, UCD, Dublin, 13 March 2018. Keynote lecture by P. Schmitter (EUI) who is one of the world's leading scholars in European Union studies and comparative labour politics.