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
On 1 July 2003, the Italian government took over the Presidency of the EU
Council for a six-month term (EU0307205F ). The European Trade Union
Confederation (ETUC) has issued a memorandum  to the Italian Presidency in
which it details a list of social issues that it wishes to see addressed
during the second half of 2003.
Set against the backdrop of preparations for enlargement of the European Union, this report provides a comparative overview of the most significant industrial relations developments during 2003, both at national and EU level. The fruit of a joint collaboration between the Foundation and the European Commission, the report presents the year’s main activities in European social dialogue and employment legislation and policy. It examines the key issues covered by collective bargaining and looks at the regulation of working time.
Meeting informally on 11–12 July 2003 in Varese, Italy under the incoming
Italian Presidency of the Council, EU social policy and employment ministers
discussed the issue of undeclared work in the EU. This topic, also known as
the 'grey economy', is one of the Italian Presidency’s priorities
(EU0307205F ), and is believed to account for between 7% and 19% of the
volume of total declared employment in EU Member States. It was noted that,
in order to try to reduce undeclared work, a specific employment guideline on
this topic has been included in the latest employment guidelines  to
Member States under the European employment strategy . Actions deemed to
be effective in combatting undeclared work include the removal of
disincentives to declare work, the elimination of poverty traps and renewed
efforts to make work pay. Alongside this, the Italian Presidency’s strategy
to combat undeclared work includes penalties for not declaring work,
incentives to declare work and legislation to avoid the poverty trap.
On 8 July 2003, the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free market think-tank,
released its latest annual report on Economic freedom of the world , drawn
up in conjunction with members of the Economic Freedom Network  (a group
of similar institutes around the world). The report, published since 1996,
uses the most recent internationally comparable data available - referring to
2001 in this case - to provide a ranking of 123 nations according to their
degree of 'economic freedom', defined as 'personal choice, voluntary
exchange, freedom to compete, and protection of the person and property'.
According to the 2003 study, Germany stood in 20th place in the economic
freedom rankings, down from 13th place in the 2002 report (having stood at
12th in 1995, 10th in 1990 and eighth in 1985).
In August 2002, parliament removed the director of Slovak Television
(Slovenská televízia, STV), the country's public broadcaster. The grounds
were that he had signed a new collective agreement which awarded STV
management excessive redundancy pay entitlements (SK0211102N ).
Consequently, the vacancy was advertised and 40 candidates applied for the
position. The Slovak Television Council (Rada Slovenskej televízie, Rada
STV) - a body which is elected by parliament and is responsible for STV's
objectivity and independence - proposed two candidates from among the
applicants and parliament subsequently selected Richard Rybnicek as the new
STV director. Parliament made the decision in the light of Mr Rybnicek's
stated vision for STV's operation and of his TV management experience (he is
a former director of a private TV station). On 15 January 2003, Mr Rybnicek
was officially installed as the new STV director.
Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.
The European Restructuring Monitor has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This series includes its restructuring-related databases (events, support instruments and legislation) as well as case studies and publications.
Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.
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 ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).
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.
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
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 policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.
The financial services sector is pertinent for studying the impact of digitalisation, as the main ‘raw material’ of the sector is digitally stored and processed. Process automation in the sector is likely to lead to significant job losses over the next 10 years, as the high street bank presence declines and the online bank presence increasingly accounts for a higher share of overall activity. Such trends have already been identified in bank restructurings captured in Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the electricity sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the electricity sector in the EU Member States.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the gas sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the gas sector in the EU Member States.
This report investigates the practical implementation of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive at company level. It explores the challenges faced by existing EWCs and provides examples of identified solutions and remaining issues from the point of view of both workers and management. The report looks at the way that EWCs meet the requirements of the EWC Directive in terms of establishing processes of information and consultation.
The hospital sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and their workers are on the frontline in the fight against the virus, and they face a number of significant challenges in terms of resources, work organisation and working conditions. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?