Anatomy of a ‘Critical Friendship’: Organized Labour and the European State Formation

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Drawing on a critical political economy perspective on European integration, this
article argues that organized labour at the European level, mainly through the form of the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation), has been over-reliant on the institutional structures of the European state formation, and concomitant hopes for a European social model, rather than questioning the social basis of the hegemonic project of neoliberal integration that has fundamentally engendered the current form of the EU. This argument is then revisited in the
light of recent developments; even before the current crisis fault lines in this strategy have emerged, and have subsequently become more pronounced. The analysis examines the role and strategies of organized labour in the process of European integration, focusing on the shifts and continuities in its position from broad support for the Single Market project to an increasingly critical relationship with the European state formation in the context of financial and economic crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)577-592
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • European integration
  • trade unions
  • labour
  • financial crisis
  • European state formation

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