In March 2003, Alstom, the French-based engineering multinational, announced
a major Europe-wide restructuring plan which includes major cuts in its
activities and 5,000 job losses. In July, management obtained shareholders'
approval for an increase in capital as part of the plan, while employees from
across Europe demonstrated in protest against the workforce reductions. The
French government is intervening to support Alstom’s activity, enable the
sale of assets and allow partnerships to be formed.
After a difficult start, negotiations between the social partners on reform
of the French vocational training system led in July 2003 to consensus on the
basic points of an agreement on the issue. However, there are still
differences over the division of training costs between employers and
employees and on the possibility of training outside working hours. The
negotiators were to meet again in early September 2003 to finalise an
A refuse collection strike affected a large number of French cities over May
and June 2003. The industrial action, mainly concerning public sector workers
but also some employees of private companies, partly overlapped with the
national wave of protests over the government's reform of the pension system,
but also reflected existing problems in the sector. The major demands
involved wage and staffing increases and a lower retirement age, at a time
when workers in this industry are facing particularly difficult working
conditions in the context of increasingly demanding public policies.
In June 2003, employers' organisations and three trade unions reached a new
agreement on France's special unemployment insurance scheme for workers
employed sporadically on fixed-term contracts in the entertainment industry.
The deal imposes stricter entitlement criteria and reduces the benefit
payment period. It was met with major protest action by the employees
affected and the non-signatory unions. Parts of the agreement were
renegotiated in July following an appeal by the Minister of Culture. However,
the protests intensified, eventually resulting in the cancellation of two
major summer arts festivals.
Compensation for people suffering illness as a result of asbestos exposure at
work has been in the headlines in 2003, with disagreement over the level of
compensation to be paid by a newly created Fund for the Compensation of
Asbestos Victims (FIVA). The Fund aims to provide full compensation to
asbestos victims, following an asbestos-related early retirement scheme
introduced in 1999. In 2003 it adopted a scale of compensation payments much
lower than awards made by the courts, bringing protests from trade unions and
The comparative study was compiled on the basis of individual national
reports submitted by EIRO's national centres. The text of each of these
national reports is available below in Word format. The reports have not been
edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living
and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a
questionnaire  and should be read in conjunction with it.
The draft EU constitutional Treaty submitted to the European Council by the
European Convention in June 2003 has given rise to some very divided opinions
among the Belgian social partners. The employers are delighted with a draft
that they believe will ensure that the enlarged EU functions more
efficiently, while the trade unions have described the proposed Treaty as
In July 2003, four socialist and liberal political parties reached agreement
on the formation of a new Belgian federal government. The coalition agreement
includes a number of important employment and social plans, such as creating
200,000 jobs over four years and cutting employers' social security
contributions. The social partners have reacted in differing ways to the new
On 17 June 2003, a new trade union, Fagforbundet, was created as the result
of a merger between the Norwegian Union of Municipal Employees (Norsk
Kommuneforbund, NKF) and the smaller Association of Health and Social Care
Personnel (Norsk Helse- og Sosialforbund, NHS) (NO0211106F ). The new
union, with approximately 300,000 members, is Norway's largest. It mainly
organises employees in the municipal sector, a large majority of whom are
women. Fagforbundet  is affiliated to the Norwegian Confederation of Trade
Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO). NKF and NHS started talks on a
possible merger as early as 1998, and the matter was subsequently subject to
considerable debate and a comprehensive process of deliberation (NO9809185F
 and NO0211106F ).
In July 2003, the Portuguese government presented the second National Plan
for Equality. The plan aims to promote equality between women and men in a
wide range of areas, addressing matters such as education, employment,
balancing work and family life, preventing violence against women, and social
This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.
The European Company Survey (ECS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2004–2005, with the latest edition in 2019. The survey is designed to provide information on workplace practices to develop and evaluate socioeconomic policy in the EU. It covers issues around work organisation, working time arrangements and work–life balance, flexibility, workplace innovation, employee involvement, human resource management, social dialogue, and most recently also skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.
The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2003, with the latest edition in 2016. It examines both the objective circumstances of people's lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. It covers issues around employment, income, education, housing, family, health and work–life balance. It also looks at subjective topics, such as people's levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and perceptions of the quality of society.
This series brings together publications and other outputs of the European Jobs Monitor (EJM), which tracks structural change in European labour markets. The EJM analyses shifts in the employment structure in the EU in terms of occupation and sector and gives a qualitative assessment of these shifts using various proxies of job quality – wages, skill-levels, etc.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2016, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2015, the sixth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 1996, the second edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2001, which was an extension of the EWCS 2000 to cover the then 12 acceding and candidate countries. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2000, the third edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the first edition of the survey carried out in 2004–2005 under the name European Establishment Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
In 2022, the European Semester was streamlined to integrate the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) established on 19 February 2021 (Regulation (EU) 2021/241). While facing the geopolitical and economic challenges triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Member States have been implementing the national Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs) for more than one year and around 100 billion euro in RRF funds have already been disbursed.
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
This paper provides an analytical summary of state of the art academic and policy literature on the impact of climate change and policies to manage transitions to a carbon neutral economy on employment, working conditions, social dialogue and living conditions. It maps the key empirical findings around the impact of climate change and the green transitions on jobs, sectors, regions and countries in Europe, identifying the opportunities and risks that climate change policies bring to European labour markets.
With the expansion of telework and different forms of hybrid work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for policymakers to consider both the opportunities and the negative consequences that may result. This report will explore potential scenarios for such work. In doing so, it will identify trends and drivers, and predict how they might interact to create particular outcomes and how they are likely to affect workers and businesses. Policy pointers will outline what could be done to facilitate desirable outcomes and to avoid undesirable ones.
This report explores the drivers of economic and social convergence in Europe, using a selected set of economic and social indicators to examine trends in the performance of individual Member States. It also investigates what role the Economic and Monetary Union plays in convergence, particularly in southern and eastern Member States. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on convergence is analysed and initial conclusions are drawn about the impact of EU recovery packages and their ability to prevent divergence.
As economies emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, labour shortages are becoming increasingly evident. These include shortages exacerbated by the crisis in some sectors and professions where they had been endemic for some time. This report will look at measures implemented at national level to tackle labour shortages in the health, care and information and communications technology sectors, as well as those arising from the twin digital and green transitions.
Adequate, affordable housing has become a matter of great concern, with an alarming number of Europeans with low or lower household incomes unable to access any, especially in capital cities. Housing was a key factor in people’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic: its quality and level of safety significantly affected how lockdowns and social distancing measures were experienced, with those who had no access to quality housing at higher risk of deteriorating living conditions and well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an extraordinary level of provision of social services across the EU. Healthcare and care providers carried much of the burden and, together with essential services, played a crucial role in getting citizens through the crisis. This report explores how public services adapted to the new reality and what role was played by the digital transformation of services. The aim is to contribute to the documentation and analysis of changes in funding, delivery and use of healthcare and social services during the pandemic.
The urban-rural divide in EU countries has grown in recent years, and the depopulation of certain rural areas in favour of cities is a challenge when it comes to promoting economic development and maintaining social cohesion and convergence. Using data from Eurofound and Eurostat, this report will investigate the trends and drivers of the urban-rural divide, in various dimensions: economic and employment opportunities, access to services, living conditions and quality of life.
Building on previous work by Eurofound, this report will investigate intergenerational dynamics over time. During the 2008 double-dip recession, worrying intergenerational divides appeared in many Member States, and while some of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is universal, early data suggests disparities across demographic cohorts. Eurofound will examine how different age groups may have been affected in terms of their health, labour market participation, quality of life and financial needs, both in the short term and in the long term.