The Workers United? Preference Formation of European-Level Trade Union Organizations on the Freedom of Services

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW2.3.01 (Tower Two)
Martin Seeliger, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany
Ines Wagner, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
As a founding principle of the common market, the Freedom of Services constitutes one major force behind European economic integration. Here, the cross-border mobility of personnel employed in one country and working in another has become a subject of controversial debates and negotiations between a range of actors within the multi-level-system of European politics. The literature on the topic finds barriers impeding a common political position to emerge along national and ideological lines (Crespy and Gajewska, 2010). However, less work has been carried out on the dynamics of preference formation (Hall 2005) on this issue among European trade union organizations. This paper aims to fill that gap. It will ask what factors are pushing European trade union organizations toward developing a common position, what is the purpose underlying trade union’s activities and what are the chances of making an impact on policy-making at the European level.

Empirically, the paper examines the emergence of a common political line on the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive. Based on 50 interviews with trade union representatives from seven countries as well as the European sectoral federations and the European trade union confederation we examine their lobbying-strategies directed at the European Commission and Members of European Parliament.
Preliminary findings indicate major frictions not between organizations from countries with different wages and social standards but between the sectoral and the inter-professional level. As factors explaining the difficulties of European trade union organizations to find a common positions among themselves, we can identify a strong divergence in the perspective on legislation between the European Trade Union Confederation and the European Sectoral Federations.


Hall, Peter A. (2005): Preference Formation as a Political Process: The Case of Monetary Union in Europe.” In: Katznelson, Ira; Weingast, Barry (eds.): Preferences over Time. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 129-160

Crespy, Amandine; Gajewska, Katarzyna  (2010): New Parliament, Old Cleavages? Political Conflict Lines on the EU Services Directive in the European Parliament after the Eastern Enlargement. In: Journal of Common Market Studies, 48(5), 2010, 1185-1208