Bieler, Andreas (2012) ‘The EU, Global Europe and processes of uneven and combined development: the problem of transnational labour solidarity’, Review of International Studies, Vol.38: 1-23; doi:10.1017/S0260210512000083.
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.