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Seminar series

National trade unions in the EU: the paradox of workers’ rights defense

Book Presentation

Add to calendar 2021-10-14 15:00 2021-10-14 16:30 Europe/Rome National trade unions in the EU: the paradox of workers’ rights defense ZOOM YYYY-MM-DD


14 October 2021

15:00 - 16:30 CEST



In this De Gasperi seminar, Quentin Jouan, Senior consultant at Deloitte Belgium and teaching member at the University of Namur, will present and discuss together with Aurélie Andry, Research Fellow in International History at Université d'Évry Paris Saclay, his recent book “Défendre les travailleurs par l'intégration de l'Europe ? L'Européanisation des syndicats belges et allemands (1972-1985)".

With the Treaties of Paris and Rome, Europe is moving from the status of a myth to that of a new reality. How are the organizations of the Member States of the Community reacting to this imposing European fact? How are they represented? What are the respective dialogues, confrontations or attempts at influence that take place? These questions are at the heart of this book, which focuses on the specific case of Belgian and German trade unions during the period 1972-1985 based on their archives, along with those of EU institutions deposited at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence.

In this book, the author emphasizes the paradox of the trade union response to European integration. On the one hand, the trade union discourse is permeated with a deep rhetoric of necessity. Integrated Europe is considered essential to compensate for the shortcomings of national structures which are less and less able to solve the challenges of their time, whether structural (concentration of capital and development of multinational companies) or cyclical (energy crisis and economical). This rhetoric is accompanied by bitter regret on the part of the unions as to the overly favorable turn in favor of employers and multinationals that Europe has presumably offered. On the other hand, however, European trade union action remains difficult. National unions show very little ownership of European issues and offload heavily on the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). Europe remains a distinct and external object, built on the basis of the impetus of the ETUC or the Commission and experienced with a strong national dimension.


Quentin Jouan (University of Namur)

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