In our new book, we theorise the political economy of marketization in Europe, based on hundreds of interviews with policymakers, businesses, trade unionists, administrators, and more, from various countries and industries. Our central argument is that attempts to extend and intensify principles of market competition in 21st century Europe have tended to shift the balance of power in workplaces away from labour and towards capital, while also shielding market governance from democratic oversight.
The financialized nature of current European political economy has pushed governments to pursue policies which are hostile to workers’ interests, even when these may disrupt stability and growth. Two policies in particular – punitive active labor market policies (i.e. workfare) and pan-European wage restraint – have both been unconvincing as drivers of growth and employment, and neither appear to contribute to institutional stability. But both have been aggressively implemented by many European states in spite of these failings.