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When trade unions succeed: Cases of blocked liberalisation in the common market


  • Merethe Dotterud Leiren,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Political Science and Management, University of Agder, Norway and Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo, Norway
    • Address for correspondence: Merethe Dotterud Leiren, Institute of Transport Economics, Gaustadálleen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:

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  • Louisa Parks

    1. School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK
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Despite the generally accepted weakness of trade unions at the European Union level, an analysis of two high profile cases – the Services Directive and the Port Directive – shows that trade unions are able to mobilise effectively at the European level and, within constellations of actors, crucially impact EU decision making. In contrast to common claims that a lack of access to EU institutions makes such groups powerless, it is argued here that the exclusion of large opposing societal groups from consultations is neither a quick nor a sure fire recipe for dismantling opposition. On the contrary, it politicises the process and may lead to opposing groups mobilising in more contentious ways.