Trade Unions in the Course of European Integration: The Social Construction of Organized Interests

Martin Seeliger

16. Januar 2019

MPIfG Book


London: Routledge, 2019
280 pages
ISBN 978-0-367-14066-3 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-429-02999-8 (ebook)

» Publisher's page
Seeliger, Martin
Trade Unions in the Course of European Integration: The Social Construction of Organized Interests. Routledge Research in Employment Relations. New York: Routledge, 2019.


From the perspective of trade unions, European integration makes it more necessary than ever before to establish common political positions. At the same time, increasing heterogeneity between the member states makes the crafting of such positions more and more difficult. Can, under these circumstances, a joint political line among European trade unions emerge? To answer this question, the book sheds light on transnational trade union cooperation in the three most important policy fields: the debate around the Freedom of services, the discussion over a European minimum wage, and the efforts of international wage coordination.
Drawing on the results of extensive field research based on a qualitative study among trade unions from Hungary, Poland, Sweden, and Germany, as well as representatives from the European level, this book points to a significant gap in European trade union politics between pretensions and reality. The findings provide a solid theoretical framework, suitable not only to explain current dynamics in the field of European trade unionism, but also promising for further research on the topic.
With its focus on a contested political field, Trade Unions in the Course of European Integration contributes to practical and theoretical debates within European trade unionism. As an adequate understanding of European trade unionism in general and collective bargaining requires a twofold perspective on European integration and the role of trade unions in European labor relations, two fields of scholarly interest are being addressed. Moreover, with its focus on European trade unionism as an internationalist project of labor politics, the book will also appeal to those interested in the field of Global Labor Studies.


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Introduction to the Topic and the State of Research 
2.1    International trade-union cooperation
2.2    Trade unions and European integration
2.3    European collective bargaining as a challenge and indicator of trade-union position formation
2.4    "Social Europe" as a concept and project
2.5    Assessing the potential of European trade unions: Optimists and skeptics
         2.5.1    On the state of optimistic trade-union research
         2.5.2    The pessimistic position
2.6    Summary and question: How did the common positions come about?
Chapter 3
Political Fields and the Framework for Their Conceptual Study 
3.1    The freedom to provide services and the posting of workers
3.2    European minimum wage
3.3    Wage coordination
3.4    Three fields, three puzzles
3.5    Methodological operationalization and data acquisition
Chapter 4
Theoretical Approach 
4.1    Justification of the action theoretical approach
4.2    Trade-union policy in the multilevel system of the EU from a Pragmatist perspective
4.3    From rational systems to discrepancy between talk and action in organizations
4.4    Socialization in the multilevel system of the EU
4.5    "Imagining Social Europe": shared visions for the future as political frames of reference
4.6    International position formation among European trade unions: a synthetic approach
Chapter 5
European Collective Bargaining: Empirical Findings from the Core Areas 
5.1    Profiles of the countries and trade-union organizations studied
5.2    The freedom to provide services and worker posting
         5.2.1    The discussion surrounding the freedom to provide services
         5.2.2    The discussion surrounding the Enforcement Directive
5.3    The discussion surrounding the European minimum wage
5.4    Wage coordination
5.5    Comparative summary of the findings
Chapter 6
Summary: The Social Construction of Organized Interests in the EU
A    Interview partners
B    Nominal unit labor-cost devdevelopment in the Eurozone


Martin Seeliger

Martin Seeliger is an Assistant Professor at the European University of Flensburg, Germany.

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