Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27, 2, 197-222
In the new EU member states, tripartite national-level social pacts have been promoted as a preferred and effective instrument for a rapid and relatively painless fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria, following the example of many of the old member states in the 1990s, and notably Italy. But such policy advice is not based on careful comparisons. By comparing Poland and Italy, this article undermines the dominant view that the failure of concertation attempts in Poland is mostly due to trade union politicization. The comparative test with Italy, a country with equally politicized trade unions, and where, by contrast, important social pacts have been signed, suggests that divergent employer strategies and organization are at least an equally important factor. Additionally, the study provides a more mixed assessment of the Italian social pacts.