The Impact of the Eurozone Crisis on Irish Social Partnership.

International labour Organisation (ILO) and EU Commission

The first casualty of the Eurozone crisis in Ireland was social partnership and centralized wage bargaining. Despite the fact that a consensual approach to socio-economic policy was the default position of the country’s political economy for twenty three years, the Irish government has so far pursued a unilateral rather than a negotiated adjustment. The policy constraints of EMU and the narrow focus on public sector austerity, in the context of an unprecedented fiscal crisis, has undermined the capacity of the actors to engage in a strategy of social partnership. Internal devaluation has reinforced the liberal market orientation of Ireland’s public policy regime. The author will detail the failed attempt at a negotiated response to the crisis in 2009, the implicit reform strategy of the public sector agreement reached in 2010 and will analyze the impact of de-centralised collective bargaining in the private sector. We conclude that the narrow focus on austerity decreases the capacity of the democratic state to pursue an egalitarian response to the crisis, and reflects a general movement toward neoliberalism at the European level

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