Research area

Europe and European policies

The research area monitors economic, social and political developments on the European level and evaluates the consequences, risks and opportunities for employees, households, firms and the future of the welfare state. The development of transnational European industrial relations provides an opportunity to increase the scope for shaping policy on companies, collective bargaining and trade unions in response to the constraints imposed by globalisation. The WSI promotes the development of Europeans Works Councils and the Europeanisation of collective bargaining.

Main research topics

economic and financial policy issues in Europe - EU democratic deficit - monitoring of EU decisions - impact of European institutions (ECJ, ECHR, ECB) - transnational labour relations and national working and living conditions


WSI Minimum Wages Database

Data, graphs and an interactive map give an updated overview of the development and amount of minimum wages in the EU and selected OECD countries. more...


Anke Hassel, 29.10.2018

Why The Left Must Talk About Migration

The impact of high levels of immigration is likely to challenge the institutions of comprehensive regulation of labour markets on which the European Social Model rests. The left has to find a policy on migration which is strong on anti-racism but does not ignore reality.

WSI Working Paper 208

The Social Progress Protocol of the ETUC

The Social Progress Protocol is a proposal formulated by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). It is a response to judicial decisions of the European Court of Justice on the relationship between fundamental freedoms and collective social rights. The proposal essentially demands a supplementing of European primary law in a way that gives precedence to fundamental social rights in the event of a conflict of laws. Martin Höpner (MPIG Cologne) underscores the justification of the goals pursued by the Social Progress Protocol and makes suggestions on how it can be developed further.

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WSI Working Paper 207

A social and democratic Europe?

Everywhere in Europe, support for the European integration process decreases. Fundamental social rights clash with the market-liberal single market law, the key institutions of the European social model are undermined. What are the causes for this development? Which changes are necessary to achieve a more social and democratic Europe? Daniel Seikel (WSI) identifies three policy fields that are of central importance: an "open" constitution for Europe, social minimum standards and the recuperation of the fiscal capacities of the political system.

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Social Europe online, 25.11.2016

Three Fallacies Of Internal Devaluation

Since the beginning of the crisis, improving competitiveness has become the dominant frame of reference for European crisis management based on austerity and internal devaluation. Torsten Müller, Thorsten Schulten (WSI) and Sepp Zuckerstätter reveal that the policy-makers‘ dominant analysis of competitiveness and concomitant strategy of internal devaluations do not stand up to any empirical investigation. The authors show that, in view of the great importance of domestic demand for economic performance, it would instead be far more promising to pursue a wage-led growth model focussed on reversing the trends of falling wage shares and a redistribution from labour to capital income.

full text

Journal of Common Market Studies

Flexible Austerity and Supranational Autonomy

Daniel Seikel (WSI) investigates the implications of the introduction of reversed qualified majority voting for the excessive deficit procedure included in the EU Six Pack and the Fiscal Compact. In bringing together institutional analysis and a political economy perspective, the paper shows how the strengthening of the Commission's discretionary decision-making authority in a context of intergovernmental power imbalances between debtor and creditor states extends the asymmetry between market-making and market-correction to the area of political decision-making.

more ...

Social Europe

The European Union In Crisis – Is Flexible Integration The Way Forward?

The UK’s Brexit-referendum has caused a severe crisis of the European Union. Daniel Seikel (WSI) discusses whether flexible integration could be the answer to the crisis. He suggests a reform of the EU which would lead to a deeper, more democratic and differentiated integration that would make progress towards a more social Europe possible.



Social Europe, 24.03.2016

No ‘social triple A’ for Europe

In a critical assessment of the Commission's draft of a future ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’ (EPSR), Dr. Daniel Seikel (WSI) concludes that the EPSR does not contribute anything substantial by way of strengthening the EU’s social dimension. On the contrary, it reformulates social rights in a market-compatible way, and the Commission's view is strictly restricted to individual social rights – collective social rights are not even mentioned in the EPSR.

full text

Journal of European Public Policy 22 (8), 1166-1185, 2015

Class struggle in the shadow of Luxembourg

In recent years, the European Court of Justice has extended the scope of the four fundamental freedoms to politically and economically highly sensitive areas such as the right to strike and the regulation of working conditions of posted workers. Dr. Daniel Seikel (WSI) analyses the domestic impact of two of the most controversial judgments – Laval and Rüffert – in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, concluding that the ECJ's case law has shifted the balance of power between labour and capital in the domestic arenas in favour of business.



Guy van Gyes (KU Leuven) and Thorsten Schulten (WSI) (eds.)

Wage bargaining under the new European Economic Governance

Within the framework of the new European economic governance, neoliberal views on wages have further increased in prominence and have steered various reforms of collective bargaining rules. This book proposes an alternative: Wage developments need to be strengthened through a Europe-wide coordinated reconstruction of collective bargaining as a precondition for more sustainable and inclusive growth.

information and download


Torsten Müller (ETUI) and Thorsten Schulten (WSI)

The public-private sector pay debate in Europe

Using comparative studies and new statistical data, the paper demonstrates  that driving down public sector wages is not the right recipe to get out of the crisis and underlines the need for a strong public sector to boost aggregate demand and provide a modern public infrastructure as major precondition for a competitive economy.

etui working paper 2015.08


New publication on Social Europe online

The German Model seen by its neighbours

Since the Financial Crisis in 2008 Germany has performed better than most of its neighbouring countries. What makes Germany so special that nobel prize winner Krugman called it a miracle, and is this sustainable? And what do neighbours think about Germany? The book consists of two parts. Part one shows Germany seen by some authors of the Variety of Capitalism literature hosted in the US, and by Germans themselves. Part two shows Germany in the eyes of its European neighbours.

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New Publication

European Economic Governance and Collective Bargaining

In a contribution to a new book of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) edited by Steffen Lehndorff, Thorsten Schulten (WSI) and Torsten Müller (ETUI) analyse the influence of the new European Economic Governance on national wage developments and collective bargaining.

more information and download


Contours of a European Minimum Wage Policy

In a recent study published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Thorsten Schulten (WSI) summarises the current debate on a European Minimum Wage Policy and analyses its economic, political and institutional implications.

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Springer 2014 - ISBN: 978-3-642-38723-4

Mathematical Theory of Democracy

The mathematical theory of democracy deals with the selection of representatives who make decisions on behalf of the whole society. To bridge representative and direct democracy, Andranik Tangian (WSI) proposes an election method that is based not on voting but on indexing candidates with respect to the electorate’s political profile.


For more information on projects and publications, please visit the German webpage of the research area.


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