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In search of a European model of industrial democracy. A transnational history of trade unionism 1960-2002

Final Activity Report Summary - INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY (In search of a European model of industrial democracy. A transnational history of trade unionism 1960-2002)

The aim of this project was to reconstruct the history of European trade union debates related to notions of 'industrial democracy' with a view to assessing the extent to which this debate contributed to the changing fortune of European Community/European Union legislation in the area of company law harmonisation since the 1960s. The hypothesis of a close link between union debates and EC/EU policy was confirmed: Until the early 1990s European trade unions' inability to overcome ideological disagreements in relation to concepts of 'industrial democracy', and their more general emphasis on subsidiary in social policy and industrial relations matters translated into defensive attitudes, which became a serious obstacle for European company law harmonisation. On the other hand, a partial shift of trade union positions in the course of the 1990s, triggered by accelerating processes of economic internationalisation and the concomitant erosion of national social citizenship regimes, contributed to the breakthrough of the SE Directive, and new EU legislation in the field of information and consultation of employees.

The scientific results of the project have been or will be published in several peer-reviewed journals, or as chapters in peer-reviewed books. An international workshop entitled 'Industrial democracy: European issues in historical and contemporary perspectives' has been organised as part of the project in May 2008, the proceedings of which will be published as a special issue of the journal 'Economic and Industrial Democracy' in 2009. Moreover, a new extended line of research has been established as it became clear that trade union debates were embedded in a larger, yet unexplored transnational debate about industrial democracy, which includes other actors (employers, labour law experts) and other arenas (e.g. ILO). This research is ongoing and will result in a monograph publication in 2011 or 2012.