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The EU, Global Europe, and processes of uneven and combined development: the problem of transnational labour solidarity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2012

Abstract

In 2006, the European Union launched its new free trade strategy Global Europe with the explicit goal of increasing European competitiveness. This article explores the positions of trade unions and other social movements on Global Europe. Importantly, while Northern social movements and trade unions from the Global South reject Global Europe due to its impact of deindustrialisation on developing countries, European trade unions support it in so far as it opens up new markets for the export of European manufactured goods. It will be argued that this has to be understood against the background of the dynamics underlying the global economy and here in particular uneven and combined development. Due to the uneven integration of different parts of the world into the global economy, workers in developed countries may actually benefit from free trade, while workers in the Global South are more likely to lose out. It will, however, also be argued that while these different positions within the social relations of production are shaping the position of trade unions, they do not determine them. Over time, through direct engagement, trade unions in the North and South may be able to establish relations of transnational solidarity.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2012

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References

1 See, for example, the special issue on Governance and Resistance in World Politics in the Review of International Studies, 29 (2003). Other contributions include Eschle, Catherine and Maiguashca, Bice, Critical theories, international relations and ‘the anti-globalisation movement’: the politics of global resistance (London and New York: Routledge, 2005)Google Scholar; Gill, Stephen, Power and Resistance in the New World Order (2nd edn, LondonPalgrave, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gills, Barry (ed.), Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (London: Palgrave, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Held, David and McGrew, Anthony, Globalization/Anti-Globalization: Beyond the Great Divide (2nd edn, Cambridge: Polity, 2008)Google Scholar; Reitan, Ruth, Global Activism (London: Routledge, 2007)Google Scholar; and Routledge, Paul and Cumbers, Andrew, Global Justice Networks: Geographies of Transnational Solidarity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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12 European Commission, ‘Letter by the European Commission to the Director of the World Development Movement’ (23 February 2009), p. 1, available at: {http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2009/february/tradoc_142359.pdf} accessed 30 May 2009.

13 European Commission, ‘Interim Economic Partnership Agreements: Questions and Answers – Brussels (27 March 2008), available at: {http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2008/march/tradoc_138457.pdf} accessed 5 Oct. 2008.

14 European Commission, ‘Africa, Caribbean, Pacific: ACP and EU, a long and preferential relationship’ (2008), available at: {http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/bilateral/regions/acp/lprel_en.htm} accessed 20 Mar. 2009. For an overview and discussion of the Lomé Conventions since 1976 and their non-reciprocal trade preferences, see Ravenhill, John, Collective Clientelism: The Lomé Conventions and North-South Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985)Google Scholar. The Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000, replaced Lomé. It envisaged already the reciprocal nature of the EPAs and included an element of coercion rather than cooperation (see Hurt, Stephen, ‘Co-operation and Coercion? The Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and ACP states and the End of the Lomé Convention’, Third World Quarterly, 24:1 (2003), pp. 161–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar).

15 Oxfam International, ‘Partnership or Power Play? How Europe should bring development into its trade deals with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries’ (2008), p. 6, available at: {http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp110_europe_EPAs_trade_deals_with_acp_countries_0804.pdf} accessed 20 May 2009.

16 Even the EU's ‘Everything but arms’ initiative launched in 2001 and granting the 49 least-developed countries free access to the EU market for all their products except weapons has had neo-liberal implications in that it was used by the Commission to justify EU internal market related reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for sugar and rice (Faber, G. and Orbie, J., ‘Everything But Arms: Much More than Appears at First Sight’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 47:4 (2009), pp. 767–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar). It would also be interesting in this respect to investigate the wider European Neighbourhood Policy towards North Africa and Eastern Europe and assess to what extent this policy too is focused on opening up new markets. For overviews see Browning, Christopher and Joenniemi, Pertti, ‘Geostrategies of the European Neighbourhood Policy’, European Journal of International Relations, 14:3 (2008), pp. 519–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Moisio, Sami, ‘Redrawing the Map of Europe: Spatial Formation of the EU's Eastern Dimension’, Geography Compass, 1:1 (2007), pp. 82102CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Paul Cammack, ‘The Politics of Global Competitiveness’, papers in the Politics of Global Competitiveness, no. 1 (Institute for Global Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2006), available at: {http://e-space.openrepository.com/e-space/bitstream/2173/6190/3/The%20Politics%20of%20Global%20Competitiveness.pdf} accessed 14 Feb. 2011.

18 War on Want, ‘Trading Away Our Jobs: How free trade threatens employment around the world’ (2009), p. 18, available at: {http://www.waronwant.org/attachments/Trading%20Away%20Our%20Jobs.pdf} accessed 31 Mar. 2009.

19 World Development Movement, ‘Europe fights for profits from Africa’ (19 December 2007), available at: {http://www.wdm.org.uk/news/archive/2007/europeanprofitsfromafrica 19122007.html} accessed 27 Feb. 2009.

20 Seattle to Brussels Network, ‘The EU Corporate Trade Agenda: The role and the interests of corporations and their lobby groups in Trade Policy-Making in the European Union’ (2005), p. 30, available at: {http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2005/EU_corporate_trade_agenda.pdf} accessed 30 May 2009. The EU Corporate Trade Agenda, p. 30.

21 Oxfam International, ‘Partnership or Power Play?’, p. 3.

22 Ibid., p. 34.

23 PSCC, ‘Resolución de la Plataforma Sindical Común Centroamericana (PSCC) sobre el ADA/CA-UE (Guatemala, 14 de mayo de 2009)’, available at: {http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Resolucion-de-la-Plataforma.html} accessed 1 June 2009.

24 COSATU, ‘COSATU calls for rejection of EU-SADC Partnership Agreement’ (3 May 2009), available at: {http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Resolucion-de-la-Plataforma.html} accessed 30 May 2009.

25 La Via Campesina, ‘European and Korean social movements unite against the ‘Global Europe’ strategy and FTAs’ (2007), available at: {http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Resolucion-de-la-Plataforma.html} accessed 1 June 2009.

26 La Via Campesina, ‘Social movements reject the Free Trade Agreement EU-Central America’ (2009), available at: {http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Resolucion-de-la-Plataforma.html} accessed 1 June 2009.

27 The ETUC consists of a whole range of national confederations as well as European Industry Federations organising workers according to industrial sectors. Unsurprisingly, not all trade unions share the qualified support for Global Europe by the ETUC (see Andreas Bieler, Bruno Ciccaglione and John Hilary, ‘Transnational solidarity, labour movements and the problem of international free trade’, paper presented on the panel ‘Structures and Strategies in the Emerging Global Labor Movement’ at the XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden (11–17 July 2010). At the same time, without the agreement by a vast majority of its affiliate unions, the ETUC would not have been able to develop its official position on Global Europe and free trade policies more generally. Discussing its position is, therefore, to a considerable extent representative of European trade unions more widely.

28 ETUC, ‘On the Communication Global Europe: competing in the world’ (2006), available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/3390} accessed 4 Nov. 2008.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 ETUC, ‘Position of ETUC on the 6th WTO Ministerial conference, Hong Kong (13–18 December 2005)’. ‘Resolution adopted by the ETUC Executive Committee in their meeting held in Brussels on 19–20 October 2005’, available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/1746} accessed 31 May 2009.

32 ITUC, ‘WTO Ministerial: Serious jobs impact in developing countries’ (24 July 2008), available at: {http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article2318} accessed 1 June 2009.

33 Alliance of Progressive Labour, ‘Statement by Trade Unions at the “mini-Ministerial” of the WTO’ (23 July 2008), available at: {http://www.apl.org.ph/?p=332} accessed 1 June 2009.

34 TUCA/CSA, ‘Trade unions of the Americas call on their negotiators in Geneva to reject latest WTO proposal’ (Geneva, 29 July 2008), available at: {http://www.sudnordnews.org/cgi-bin/sudnordnews/index.cgi?l=3&A=557} accessed 20 Feb. 2011.

35 ETUC, ‘What ways forward for including fundamental rights at work in world trade?’ (2008), available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/5379} accessed 4 Nov. 2008.

36 ETUC, ‘Routes towards respecting human rights at work within the framework of the WTO agreements’ (2008), available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/5355} accessed 4 Nov. 2008.

37 ETUC, ‘UN member states must make decent work a prime commitment, say Global and European Trade Union Confederations’ (2008), available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/4535} accessed 4 Nov. 2008.

38 CSACC-CCT-ETUC, ‘Open Letter from the CSACC-CCT-ETUC concerning the Central America – EU Association Agreement, addressed to the negotiators of both regions’ (5 March 2009), available at: {http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/CartaAbierta-EN.pdf} accessed 2 June 2009.

39 La Via Campesina, ‘Social movements reject the Free Trade Agreement EU-Central America’ (2009), available at: {http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=699&Itemid=61}accessed 1 June 2009.

40 PSCC, ‘Resolución de la Plataforma Sindical Común Centroamericana (PSCC) sobre el ADA/CA-UE’ (Guatemala, 14 de mayo de 2009), available at: {http://www.gruposur.eu.org/Resolucion-de-la-Plataforma.html} accessed 1 June 2009.

41 ACEA-EMF, ‘European metalworkers and auto manufacturers urge EU to better balance trade negotiations’ (2008), available at: {http://www.acea.be/index.php/news/news_detail/european_metalworkers_and_auto_manufacturers_urge_eu_to_better_balance_trad} accessed 1 Apr. 2010.

42 ACEA-EMF, ‘European metal workers and auto industry warn that pending Doha deal puts EU manufacturing at risk’ (2008), available at: {http://www.acea.be/index.php/news/news_detail/european_metal_workers_and_auto_industry_warn_that_pending_doha_deal_puts_e} accessed 1 Apr. 2010.

43 COSATU, ‘COSATU CEC Statement’. Statement of the COSATU Central Executive Committee held on 1–3 September 2008’, Johannesburg (2008), available at: {http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?include=docs/pr/2008/pr0905a.html&ID=1693&cat=Media%20Centre} accessed 2 June 2010; P. Scherrer, ‘Open reply letter to the accusations of Rudi Dicks from COSATU by Peter Scherrer, General Secretary of the EMF’ (2008), available at: {http://www.velferdsstaten.no/Forsiden/?article_id=42425} accessed 1 Apr. 2010.

44 Kiely, Ray, The New Political Economy of Development: Globalization, Imperialism, Hegemony (London: Palgrave, 2007), pp. 1316Google Scholar.

45 European Commission, ‘Letter by the European Commission to the Director of the World Development Movement’, p. 1.

46 War on Want, ‘Trading Away Our Jobs’, p. 4.

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48 War on Want, ‘Trading Away Our Jobs’, pp. 5–13.

49 Ibid., p. 13.

50 Bieler, Andreas, Lindberg, Ingemar, and Pillay, Devan, ‘The future of the global working class: an introduction’, in Bieler, Andreas, Lindberg, Ingemar, and Pillay, Devan (eds), Labour and the Challenges of Globalization: What prospects for Transnational Solidarity? (London: Pluto Press, 2008), pp. 811Google Scholar.

51 Hart-Landsberg, ‘Neoliberalism’, pp. 2–4.

52 See, for example, Robinson, W. I., A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2004), pp. 80–1Google Scholar.

53 Trotsky, Leon, ‘Results and Prospects’, in Leon Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects. With introductions by Michael Löwy (London: Socialist Resistance, 1906/2007), pp. 24100Google Scholar.

54 Ibid., p. 27.

55 Rosenberg, Justin, ‘Why is there no International Historical Sociology?’, European Journal of International Relations, 12:3 (2006), p. 319CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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57 Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, p. 253.

58 Rosenberg, ‘Why is there no International Historical Sociology?’, p. 309.

59 Lacher, Beyond Globalization; Teschke, The Myth of 1648.

60 Callinicos, Alex and Rosenberg, Justin, ‘Uneven and combined development: the social-relational substratum of “the international”? An exchange of letters’, in Anievas, Alexander (ed.), Marxism and World Politics: Contesting Global Capitalism (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 171Google Scholar.

61 Ibid., p. 176.

62 Brenner, Robert, ‘The Agrarian Roots of European Capitalism’, in Aston, T. H. and Philpin, C. H. E. (eds), The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 238Google Scholar; Teschke, The Myth of 1648, p. 99.

63 See, for example, Arrighi, Giovanni, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times (London & New York: Verso, 1994)Google Scholar; Wallerstein, Immanuel, World-Systems Analysis: an Introduction (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004)Google Scholar.

64 See, for example, Frank, Andre Gunder, Capitalism and underdevelopment in Latin America: historical studies of Chile and Brazil (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969)Google Scholar.

65 Morton, Adam David, ‘Reflections on Uneven Development: Mexican Revolution, Primitive Accumulation, Passive Revolution’, Latin American Perspectives, 37:1 (2010), pp. 1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Teschke, The Myth of 1648, pp. 129–42.

66 Wallerstein, Immanuel, ‘The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 16:4 (1974), p. 399CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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70 Wood, Ellen Meiksins, ‘Global Capital, National States’, in Rupert, Mark and Smith, Hazel (eds), Historical Materialism and Globalization (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 23Google Scholar.

71 Mandel, Ernest, ‘The Laws of Uneven Development’, New Left Review I, 59 (1970), pp. 26–7Google Scholar.

72 Peter Mandelson, ‘Global Europe: competing in the world. Speaking points by Commissioner Mandelson, Press room, European Commission, 4 October 2006’. Available at: {http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/ashton/speeches_articles/sppm117_en.htm} accessed 20 Mar. 2009.

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76 Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich, ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in Cowling, Mark (ed.), The Communist Manifesto: New Interpretations (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, [orig. pub. 1848] 1998), p. 18Google Scholar.

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78 Mandel, ‘The Industrial Cycle’, p. 25.

79 Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, p. 137.

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82 Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, p. 4; Gerschenkron, Alexander, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962)Google Scholar, very similar to Trotsky, rejected linear conceptions of development. Unlike Trotsky, however, he did not incorporate the central importance of class relations and a strong understanding of the barriers to late development in his analysis. For a detailed analysis of the two authors, see Selwyn, Ben, ‘Trotsky, Gerschenkron and the political economy of late capitalist development’, Economy and Society, 40:3 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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85 Mandel, ‘Laws of Uneven Development’, p. 33.

86 Weeks, John, ‘The Expansion of Capital and Uneven Development on a World Scale’, Capital and Class, 74 (2001), pp. 910CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see also Davidson, ‘From Uneven to Combined Development’, p. 23.

87 Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, pp. 4–5.

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89 Morton, ‘Reflections on Uneven Development’, p. 10.

90 Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, p. 5.

91 Davidson, ‘From deflected permanent revolution’, pp. 15–16.

92 Davidson, Neil, ‘China: Unevenness, Combination, Revolution?’, in Radice, Hugo and Dunn, Bill (eds), 100 Years of Permanent Revolution: Results and Prospects (London: Pluto Press, 2006), p. 211Google Scholar.

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94 Davidson, ‘China’, p. 226.

95 Jane Hardy and Adrian Budd, ‘China's Capitalism in the Aftermath of the 2008 Crisis’, paper presented at 11th conference of European Sociological Association, Geneva (7–9 September 2011), pp. 30–1.

96 Davidson, ‘From Uneven to Combined Development’, p. 23.

97 Smith, Neil, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space (3rd edn, Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 2008), p. 4Google Scholar.

98 Ibid., p. 155.

99 Ibid., p. 152.

100 Ibid.

101 Duménil, Gerard and Lévy, Dominique, Capital Resurgent: Roots of the Neoliberal Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 1443Google Scholar.

102 Silver, Beverly J., Forces of Labor: Workers' Movements and Globalization since 1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

103 Bieler, Struggle for a Social Europe, pp. 47–9.

104 European Commission, Global Europe, p. 8.

105 Silver, Forces of Labor, p. 170.

106 Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis, p. 28.

107 See here also the critique of Frank by Mandel (Late Capitalism, pp. 366–7).

108 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 189.

109 Mandel, Late Capitalism, pp. 66, 359 and 368.

110 Callinicos, ‘Does Capitalism need the state system?’, p. 23.

111 Mandel, Late Capitalism, pp. 71–2.

112 Kiely, The New Political Economy of Development, p. 18.

113 Mandel, Late Capitalism, p. 343.

114 War on Want, Trading Away Our Jobs, p. 20.

115 Hart-Landsberg, Martin and Burkett, Paul, ‘China and the Dynamics of Transnational Accumulation: Causes and Consequences of Global Restructuring’, Historical Materialism, 14:3 (2006), p. 13CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Trotsky focused on international lending and investment in his assessment of uneven and combined development in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Free trade as pushed in programmes such as Global Europe has similar implications due to its impact on which industrial sectors survive and which collapse in backward countries.

116 Kiely, Ray, Rethinking Imperialism (London: Palgrave, 2010), p. 225CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

117 Mandel, Late Capitalism, p. 346.

118 Mortensen, Jens, ‘WTO and the Governance of Globalization: Dismantling the Compromise of Embedded Liberalism’, in Stubbs, Richard and Underhill, Geoffrey R. D. (eds), Political Economy and the Changing Global Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 175Google Scholar.

119 European Commission, ‘Global Europe’, p. 8.

120 Ibid., p. 11.

121 In his analysis of Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, Trotsky discussed how combined development in Russia, the fusion of advanced and backward social forms, as a result of international unevenness led to a situation of potential permanent revolution. In turn, however, combined development also maintains and potentially increases international unevenness as a consequence of missing developmental catch-up. It is the empirical focus of this article on potential transnational solidarity between various national labour movements, different from Trotsky's focus on one specific national labour movement, which shifts the emphasis on the second moment, the increasing unevenness, in this analysis.

122 Mandel, ‘The Laws of Uneven Development’, p. 25.

123 Harvey, Limits to Capital, p. 441.

124 Rupert, Mark, Ideologies of Globalization: Contending visions of a New World Order (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 14Google Scholar.

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127 Ibid., p. 30.

128 Mohanty, Chandra T., Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2003), p. 7CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

129 ETUC, ‘EU Trade negotiations with Colombia and Peru’; resolution adopted by the ETUC Executive Committee in their meeting held in Brussels on 1–2 December 2009’, available at: {http://www.etuc.org/a/6736} accessed 2 June 2010.

130 ETUC/ITUC/TUCA, Appeal to European Union, Latin American and Caribbean Heads of State and Government’; statement of the LAC-EU Trade Union Summit held in Madrid on 4–5 May 2010’, available at:{http://www.etuc.org/IMG/pdf_LLamamiento_Cumbre_Madrid_-_EN_-_Final-ING.pdf} accessed 2 June 2010.

131 Davidson, ‘From deflected permanent revolution’, pp. 13, 17–18; Selwyn, ‘Trotsky, Gerschenkron’, p. 432.

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The EU, Global Europe, and processes of uneven and combined development: the problem of transnational labour solidarity
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The EU, Global Europe, and processes of uneven and combined development: the problem of transnational labour solidarity
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