This paper discusses the challenges that the EU faces in relation to economic democracy and work. The first part of this paper looks at the need for political alternatives against the background of the failure of current strategies to tackle the increasing social and economic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the financial, economic and social crisis that started in 2008. It proposes that fostering ´economic democracy´ should be a cornerstone of the social democratic strategy in Europe, tracing the history and theory of the concept as well as its possibilities and limitations.
The second part of the paper looks at the existing situation of different tools for economic democracy in Europe, with a particular focus on cooperatives. It firstly explores the empirical implications of economic democracy through the example of cooperatives. It then looks at what policies could be pursued on a European level to support cooperatives, and also briefly looks at the policies that could be implemented to expand economic democracy beyond the development of the cooperative sector. It then discusses the limitations in theory and practice to this policy solution. Finally, it highlights some initiatives which a progressive European political movement could put on the agenda in order promote social justice and democratic accountability at the work place.