[Excerpt] While the ways in which neoliberalism and economic integration undermine social partnership and the welfare state have been extensively studied, less attention has been given to the ways in which such economic forces may push actors together, in reinvigorated bargaining relationships, to find workable solutions to difficult problems. In his article, we examine the contemporary status of social partnership in four case study countries—Germany, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Poland—as well as for Europe as a whole. In the west, while Germany presents a case of established social partnership under pressure, the United Kingdom has stood over the past two decades on the opposite neoliberal side. In the east, Bulgaria is one of the more developed cases of post-communist tripartism, while Poland exemplifies a weaker tripartism that emerged at a later stage of the transformation process. In selecting more and less developed social partnership cases in both west and east, we test the argument that the rise of Thatcher/Reagan/ Friedman ‘free market economics’ is paradoxically driving a resurgence and consolidation of social partnership relations across the new (both western and eastern) Europe.