Gepubliceerd op 01-06-2015

Call For Papers Conference “Free trade and social charges in 20th century Europe”

Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies, University of Padova (Italy),, 11-12 November 2015

The relation between international economic liberalisation and European welfare states has been one of the topics most studied by the social sciences in the last decades. Economists, jurists and political scientists have produced an extensive amount of literature, aimed at understanding either the consequences of global economy for national protection systems or, in reverse, the impact of social and labour standards on international trade or on a particular country’s trade position. This literature presents a wide variety of approaches and interpretations, also due to the peculiar conditions existing on the old continent, where the effects of globalisation interact with those of European economic integration and with the policies of the EU.

Though such problems are deeply rooted in European history, dating back to at least the second half of the 19th Century, this academic trend has only partially concerned historiography. Even if many books and essays deal in various ways with the history of European trade and trade liberalisation over the last two centuries, only a few specifically treat its relation with the evolution of national welfare systems. Most importantly, an even lesser number focus systematically on the core of the problem: the connections between trade decisions and social and labour costs. Indeed, aside from a few relevant exceptions – such as the debate on the 8-hour working day during the 1920s, British positions at Bretton Woods economic conference, or the French and Italian attitude towards the OEEC liberalisation drive in the early 1950s – on which a rather solid historiography already exists, several relevant moments still demand to be better investigated.

By gathering together scholars working on these topics, the conference aims at beginning to fill this gap and reassessing the history of trade liberalization and welfare states in Europe. The reassessment should take into account the most meaningful moments and actors and consider both the internal and the external dimensions of European commercial history, i.e. the historical evolution of intra-European trade and the international dimension of the EEC/EU trade policy.

We invite submission on any aspect of the described topic in the European history since the first globalisation of the late 19th century.

Examples of such proposals are:

1) Labour and social costs and international competitiveness in national debates, e.g.:

  • in the political arena,
  • in the media and public opinion,
  • between the economic and social forces;

2) The issue of labour costs and “social charges” on the occasion of major international trade discussions or negotiations, such as:

  • the international economic conferences of the inter-war years (especially the Geneva conference of 1927),
  • the GATT negotiations,
  • the OEEC liberalisation programme,
  • the negotiations on the treaty of Rome,
  • the projects for economic and monetary union in the EEC framework,
  • the Single European Act and the single market programme;

3) Attempts at internationally regulating the issue:

  • the ILO and its predecessors,
  • the vicissitudes of specific ILO conventions and rules (drafting, approval, implementation, withdrawals, amendments, etc.),
  • proposals for European or international “social harmonisation” (e.g. in the framework of the EEC or the Council of Europe),
  • the debate on the “social clause” in international trade agreements,
  • social aspects of European integration (in both its internal and external dimensions) as tools for preventing “social dumping” practices;

4) The role and positions of specific actors on the issue of social costs and international economic liberalisation:

  • governments,
  • national and international institutions,
  • national and transnational political parties, economic associations, trade unions and other social forces,
  • personalities;

5) The theoretical dimension:

  • the evolving positions and debates within specific disciplines,
  • the role and positions of scholars, universities, research centres.

Proposals focused on specific moments or longer-term reconstructions, and analyses of single actors or with a comparative approach will be equally considered.

Proposals on currently relevant topics, or coming from scholars with different background from historical research, will be very welcome, provided they encompass a visible historical perspective.

English will be the working language of the conference.

The organisation will cover participants’ travel and accommodation expenses.

The proposals (not more than 500 words in a word or pdf document) and a short CV should be submitted to the organisers by 15 June 2015.

Successful applicants will be notified by 15 July 2015.

Lucia Coppolaro: lucia.coppolaro@unipd.it
Lorenzo Mechi: lorenzo.mechi@unipd.it

Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies
University of Padova
Via del Santo 77, 35123 (Italy)

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