European social dialogue
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European Social dialogue. Catherine Barnard Trinity College. Diversity of industrial relations in Europe. Romano-Germanic Anglo-Irish Nordic. Diversity of industrial relations in Europe. Romano-Germanic

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European Social dialogue

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European social dialogue

European Social dialogue

Catherine Barnard

Trinity College

Diversity of industrial relations in europe

Diversity of industrial relations in Europe

  • Romano-Germanic

  • Anglo-Irish

  • Nordic

Diversity of industrial relations in europe1

Diversity of industrial relations in Europe

  • Romano-Germanic

    • state has central and active role industrial relations; extension of collective agreements

    • Low level of TU density

    • (extensive) workers rights provided by legislation and constitution

    • EU dominated by this model in early days

Diversity of industrial relations in europe2

Diversity of industrial relations in Europe

  • Anglo-Irish

    • Traditionally limited role played by state in industrial relations

    • Collective bargaining applies to parties involved and no further

    • Traditional absence of state involvement in legislation (although that has changed )

    • Central role of the contract of employment

Diversity of industrial relations in europe3

Diversity of industrial relations in Europe

  • Nordic model

    • Extensive involvement of trade union, high union density

    • Functional equivalent of legislation is collective agreements

    • High public spending and high tax rates, knowledge economy

    • Flexicurity

Trade union density

Trade union density

  • Over 90% in Romania;

  • 80%-89% in Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden;

  • 70%-79% in Italy and Norway;

  • 60%-69% in Cyprus and Malta;

  • 50%-59% in Luxembourg;

  • 40%-49% in Austria and Slovenia;

  • 30%-39% in Hungary, Ireland and Portugal;

  • 20%-29% in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Slovakia, UK;

  • 10%-19% in Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Spain

  • 0-10% in France.

Source: European Industrial Relations Observatory, Trade Union Membership 1993-2003 (2004)

Consequences of diversity

Consequences of diversity

  • Greater flexibility in legislation

  • Use of Directives (not Regulations) in the social field

    • Can be implemented by social partners

    • Directives themselves contain ‘internal flexibility’ eg I&C Directive 2002/14

    • Art. 5 of Dir. 2002/14 allows PEAs to stand

  • Negotiated flexibility: interprofessional/sectoral social partners negotiate Europe-wide collective agreements; may have legal force

  • Subsidiarity: vertical and horizontal

  • Reflexive law

Development of ec social policy

Development of EC Social Policy

  • 1957 Treaty of Rome

  • 1972 change of approach: vigorous action in the social sphere

  • SEA 1986: Art 118a (new 137) minimum standards Directives by qmv

  • Community Social Charter 1989

  • Maastricht Social Chapter 1992

  • Amsterdam Treaty 1997+ Employment Title

  • Treaty of Nice 2000

Maastricht treaty

Maastricht Treaty

  • SPA/SPP and the effect on the UK

  • More measures adopted under qmv

  • Expansion of competence

  • Greater role for social partners, including legislative role

The legislative process

The Legislative Process

First consultation

Second consultation




Collective route

If fails

Source: COM(93) 600, 43 with updates



  • Consultation

    • Prior to submitting proposals (1st stage)

    • On the content of those proposals (2nd stage)

      • Social partners submit an opinion, measure follws usual legislative routeOR

      • Social partners inform Commission under Art. 138(4) of their desire to negotiate themselves under Art. 139

  • Consultation with whom?

    • Commission Communication of 1993

Criteria for those entitled to be consulted

Criteria for those entitled to be consulted

  • the associations must be cross-industry or relate to specific sectors or categories and be organized at European level;

  • the associations must consist of organizations which are themselves ‘an integral and recognised part of Member State social partner structures’, have the capacity to negotiate agreements and be representative of all Member States ‘as far as possible’; and

  • the associations must have adequate structures to ensure their effective participation in the consultation process

Who complies

Who complies?

  • general cross industry organizations (the trade union body ETUC, the employers’ organization Business for Europe and the public sector employers’ association CEEP);

  • cross-industry organizations representing certain categories of workers or undertakings (UEAPME, CEC and Eurocadres);

  • specific organizations (the association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, EUROCHAMBRES);

  • sectoral organizations representing employers such as the Community of European Railways (CCFE), and the Association of European Airlines (AEA);

  • European trade union organizations such as European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).



  • ‘up to the social partners to decide who sits at the negotiating table’ (COM(98) 322)

  • Commission will examine representativeness on case by case basis (COM(96)600)

Legislation adopted under social title

Legislation adopted under Social Title

  • Legislation- the Burden of Proof Directive- EWC Directive

  • European wide collective bargaining- intersectoral- Parental Leave Directive 96/34- Part-time Work Directive 97/81- Fixed Term Work Directive 99/70- sectoral- Seafarers Working Time Dir. 99/63- Civil Aviation W.T Dir. 2000/79



  • ‘Decision’; in reality a Directive (Art. 139(2))

    • 3 Article Directive

    • Collective agreement is in the Annex

      • Autonomy of social partners

      • What if terms of agreement invalid? Comm. checks

      • Role of the European Parliament; democratic deficit

    • Implementation by national legislation or collective agreements

  • By national or regional collective agreements

    • Called autonomous agreements

    • Eg Telework Agreement 2002, work-related stress 2004

    • Agreement on lifelong development of competences and qualifications implemented via OMC

    • What effect do they have in the national system?

Parental leave directive

Parental Leave Directive?

  • Negotiated by intersectoral social partners

    • ETUC

    • CEEP

    • Business for Europe (ex UNICE)

  • Implemented by Directive

    • 3 Articles

    • Framework agreement in annex

  • Birth of Euro-corporatism?

  • Representativity question; monopoly of established social partners

Case t 135 96 ueapme

Case T-135/96 UEAPME

where there is no official involvement by the European Parliament ‘the principle of democracy on which the Union is founded requires ... that the participation of the people be otherwise ensured, in this instance through the parties representative of management and labour who concluded the agreement which is endowed by the Council ... with a legislative foundation at Community level.

Ueapme cont d

UEAPME (cont’d)

  • Two routes to democracy

    • Traditional route: Parliament’s involvement

    • Functional route: involvement of the social partners

  • Legitimacy questions

    • Involvement of the social partners in areas other than those directly linked to employment rights

    • Unequal bargaining power; lack of traditional sanctions

  • Response: increase sectoral social dialogue

Sectoral social dialogue

Sectoral social dialogue

  • COM(98)332; Dec. on the establishment of new sectoral dialogue committees

  • Committees set up in all sectors submitting a a joint request and are sufficiently well organised with a meaningful European presence in line with established criteria of representativeness

  • 30 sectors

Social dialogue in policy making

Social dialogue in policy making

  • Tool to achieve Luxembourg and Lisbon objectives; ‘Partnership for Change COM(2002)341

  • Role in modernising work organisation and equal opportunities

  • Consultation by EMCO and the Social protection committee

  • Tripartite social summit for growth and employment

  • But possible tension: role in suppressing wage growth which sits unhappily with the traditional role of trade unions

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