Europe As an Authoritative Resource. Reforming the Labour Market in Spain Under Austerity

Thursday, July 13, 2017
WMB - Hugh Fraser Seminar Room 2 (University of Glasgow)
Sergio González Begega , University of Oviedo
Ana Marta Guillen , University of Oviedo
Angel Alonso , Sociology, University of Oviedo
The paper explores the use of Europe as an authoritative resource to support labour market reform in Spain under Austerity. Europe has been a forceful guiding force behind the modernization of the Spanish labour market and employment policies. European institutions have provided national actors with targets and tools to pursue specific strategic agendas and paths of reform. Europe has turned out to be a thaumaturgical spell to validate or discredit proposals and stakes. Governments, political parties and social partners have systematically used Europe as a vindicative resource to underpin their positions in the public debate.

Austerity has changed the broad understanding of this vindicative use of Europe. The two aggressive labour market reforms introduced in 2011 and 2012 have been implemented under the imperative of compliance with Europe. Reform has been triggered hastily and without consultation with other relevant actors, such as trade unions and employers. The crisis has concentrated power in the hands of governments, which have exhibited an explicit preference for unilateral action.

We focus on the political discourse behind labour market reform which presents monitoring by European institutions as a critical factor for the de-activation of more accountable forms of policy-making, such as social dialogue. The paper is structured as follows. Subsequent to the introduction, Section 1 presents the dominant rhetoric of labour market reform in Spain prior to the outbreak of the Euro crisis. Sections 2 and 3 discuss the narratives and debates behind the 2011 and 2012 reforms, respectively. The final section compares and concludes.

  • CES2017Guillén_GonzálezBegega_Alonso_07072017.docx (80.5 kB)