The Political Economy of Borders in a 'Borderless' European Labour Market

16 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015

Date Written: November 2015


The reconfiguration of political space lies at the heart of the European project and is the subject of manifold studies on the new shape of the European Union, but relatively little attention has been paid to the ways in which borders are de‐ and reconstructed in a pan‐European labour market. In a pan‐European labour market, state borders shift. Postings made via subcontractors and agencies providing temporary workers also rearrange the borders of the firm. However, we know very little about how these bordering practices interact within the pan‐European labour market. This study argues that while borders have become porous, their porousness is one‐directional, in the sense that it is in favour of capital but impacts negatively on labour rights. In developing a framework for understanding the relationship between changes in sovereign borders and changes in employment relations in the EU, this article integrates insights from international relations, political economy and border research.

Keywords: european integration, labour market, border, industrial relations, migration

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Ines, The Political Economy of Borders in a 'Borderless' European Labour Market (November 2015). JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 53, Issue 6, pp. 1370-1385, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Ines Wagner (Contact Author)

University of Jyväskylä

Seminaarinkatu 30
Jyväskylä, 40100

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