Crisis-Induced Social Conflicts in the European Union – Trade Union Perspectives: The Emergence of 'Crisis Corporatism' or the Failure of Corporatist Arrangements?


  • Hans-Juergen Bieling Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
  • Julia Lux Eberhard Karls University Tübingen



Crisis corporatism, euro crisis, European Union, social crisis, trade unions.,


This paper aims to explore the role of labour and trade unions in the repeated shifts of crisis phenomena over the past years. It addresses the question why, confronted with the very profoundness of the crisis, they have failed to develop politically relevant and socially progressive strategies so far. The presented argument not only refers to structural power relations but in particular to the political struggles and processes in which more far-reaching ambitions have been knocked into shape. In that context, the focus is above all on economic stimulus packages, financial market regulation, and current budget consolidation.

The paper will be organised as follows: It will start with some general problems of trade unions in generating sufficient power and organisational capacities against the background of the unfolding crisis within the European Union (EU). The next section empirically highlights these developments by discussing the cases of Germany, France, and Spain. The paper then concludes highlighting common challenges and chances, but also the difficulties to form new progressive European alliances.