Social Forces in the Making of the New Europe: The Restructuring of European Social Relations in the Global Political Economy

By Andreas Bieler; Adam David Morton | Go to book overview

6
Strength Through Unity? A
Comparative Analysis of Splits
in the Austrian, Norwegian and
Swedish Labour Movements
over EU Membership

AndreasBielerandStinaTorjesen


Introduction: globalisation and the challenge of revived European integration

Austria, Norway and Sweden had always been sceptical about European integration. Instead of the European Union (EU), they joined the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) in 1960. In particular, Social Democratic parties in these countries argued that the EU was dominated by ‘big capital’ and Christian Democratic parties. Supranational integration led by these forces would imply the danger of undermining social democratic achievements of full employment, social equality and generous welfare provisions ( Kurzer, 1993: 207; Jerneck, 1993: 26; Cappelen et al., 1994: 58). In addition, Austria and Sweden also rejected EU membership, because it was considered incompatible with their neutral status ( Huldt, 1994: 111; Neuhold, 1992: 89). Nevertheless, from 1989 onwards, all three countries applied for membership and Austria and Sweden actually acceded to the EU on 1 January 1995, while membership was rejected in a referendum in Norway in late 1994. This chapter analyses the role of the Austrian, Norwegian and Swedish labour movements in the struggle over membership and assesses whether differences between the three were crucial for the different outcomes in the referenda.

In all three countries, the social democratic achievements were based on the possibility of small states being able to counter negative effects of international competition at the national level. Katzenstein (1985) has shown how these three states retained an economic openness to

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