Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

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


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.

Hide All
Stephen Gill , Power and Resistance in the New World Order (2nd edn, LondonPalgrave, 2008)

Barry Gills (ed.), Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (London: Palgrave, 2000)

Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers , Global Justice Networks: Geographies of Transnational Solidarity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)

Martin Hart-Landsberg , ‘Capitalism, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and Resistance’, Critical Asian Studies, 43:3 (2011), pp. 319–48

Michael Taylor (ed.), Global Economy Contested: Power and conflict across the international division of labour (London: Routledge, 2008)

Edward Webster , Rob Lambert , and Andries Beziudenhout , Grounding Globalization: Labour in the Age of Insecurity (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008)

Ian Bruff , ‘European varieties of capitalism and the international’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:4 (2010), pp. 617 and 621

Ian Manners , ‘Normative Power Europe: A Contradiction in Terms?’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 40:2 (2002), pp. 235–58

Stephen Hurt , ‘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. 161–76

G. Faber and J. Orbie , ‘Everything But Arms: Much More than Appears at First Sight’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 47:4 (2009), pp. 767–87

Christopher Browning and Pertti Joenniemi , ‘Geostrategies of the European Neighbourhood Policy’, European Journal of International Relations, 14:3 (2008), pp. 519–51

Sami Moisio , ‘Redrawing the Map of Europe: Spatial Formation of the EU's Eastern Dimension’, Geography Compass, 1:1 (2007), pp. 82102

Martin Hart-Landsberg , ‘Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality’, Monthly Review, 57:11 (2006), p. 7

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

Adam David Morton , ‘Reflections on Uneven Development: Mexican Revolution, Primitive Accumulation, Passive Revolution’, Latin American Perspectives, 37:1 (2010), pp. 1315

Ben Selwyn , ‘Trotsky, Gerschenkron and the political economy of late capitalist development’, Economy and Society, 40:3 (2011)

Marcel van der Linden , ‘The “Law” of Uneven and Combined Development: Some Underdeveloped Thoughts’, Historical Materialism, 15 (2007), p. 149

Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett , ‘China and the Dynamics of Transnational Accumulation: Causes and Consequences of Global Restructuring’, Historical Materialism, 14:3 (2006), p. 13

Andreas Bieler and Adam David Morton , ‘The Gordian Knot of Agency-Structure in International Relations: A neo-Gramscian Perspective’, European Journal of International Relations, 7:1 (2001), pp. 1627

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 22
Total number of PDF views: 142 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 543 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.