Labour and the Political Economy of EU Peripheralisation: The Case of EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Gregory SCHWARTZ, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
European integration through a unified-but-structurally-asymmetrical free market has been reshaping work, employment and social reproduction in Europe’s core and peripheries. It is doubtless the nature of integration has reshaped property rights and class relations, strengthening the power of capital vis-à-vis labour, and allowing core EU economies to achieve politically sensitive reforms via seemingly ‘natural’ changes in product markets and labour mobility associated with EU fundamental freedoms. The benefits of Europeanisation accruing to the ruling class have gone hand-in-hand with the greater subordination of labour and commodification of social reproduction, especially in the acceding or adjoining regions. In this sense, the *widening* of the EU has proceeded by means of the *deepening* of the specific social form of production and crisis tendencies of capital resting on the constitutionalisation of uneven-and-combined labour across Europe. While this makes the EU politically fragile, it makes coherent labour solidarities and alternatives formidable nonetheless, as right- and left-wing euro-scepticism demonstrate.

The EU-Ukraine DCFTA agreement is designed to accomplished the next phase of such harmonising laws, norms and regulations in trade. These are meant extensively to reshape the regulation of labour, land and property, setting in motion changes in the social constitution of Ukrainian production. By constitutionalising the externalisation of economic governance the expansion of EU’s frontiers of capital deepens the operation of the law of value in the core of the EU while securing the fealty Ukraine as Europe’s periphery. The latter become that external engine that is both dependent on the core for the protection of capital gains and whose dependence facilitates accumulation in the core. This process of European peripheralisation, labour (its spatial, social and technical unity-in-segmentation) represents not only the core of the explanation for uneven-and-combined European capitalism, but a renewed political attempt to stay the multiplying crisis tendencies of European capitalism.