Mitchell, Kristine. (2007) Trade Unions and EU Politics: Explaining Variation in European Strategies. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
[From the introduction]. Already in the years preceding the SEA, broad transformations in the nature of work and economy had undermined the position of many trade unions across Western Europe.1 Even in cases where trade unions retained influence with government, over the 1980s central political authority was undermined as, "Decisions on macroeconomic conditions were increasingly made, not in national policy arenas where neo-corporatist deals could be struck, but in intergovernmental negotiations and global markets beyond most unions’ control.2" But especially since the 1986 Single European Act (SEA), European integration has changed the environment in which trade unions act in important ways. In the past twenty years, European integration has moved beyond its relatively narrow economic basis, to impact areas of key significance for trade unions, including macroeconomic policies, social policies and even industrial relations. This expansion of the EU’s competence has changed the opportunity structure facing the trade unions by creating both challenges as well as new opportunities. That is to say that European integration has undermined existing national trade union arrangements while simultaneously creating a new arena of policy-making open to trade union influence. While integration has acted as a force for economic liberalization and deregulation, it also provides for a significant amount of actual and potential re-regulation at the European level. And although deregulatory processes have advanced much farther than has European level social re-regulation, the institutionalization of the European arena nevertheless creates new opportunities for trade union influence.
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