The recent Commission Communication on /Modernising and improving social
protection in the European Union/ (COM (97)102 of 12 March 1997- EU9703113N
) is merely the latest step in a long process of debate revolving around
the question of how systems of social protection can best be adapted to
today's changing economic, social and demographic situation. It is a debate
which has in the past clearly been influenced by the limited nature of
Community legal competence in this area. This is restricted to the
coordination of national social security schemes in cases where citizens
exercise their rights to free movement within the Union. Member states have
long resisted any attempts at a harmonisation of social protection systems,
which have developed very differently as a result of every country's
socio-economic, political and cultural heritage.
A recent study published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) on the Belgian labour market and social climate has
recommended drastic changes to the country's institutional and socio-economic
structure. The most notable recommendations include a plea for greater
flexibility, less government intervention in industrial relations, lower
unemployment benefits, abolition of the indexation of pay to consumer prices
and easier procedures for recruitment and especially dismissal. In summary,
it may be said that the OECD largely advises Belgium to adopt the "American
model". This study was to a certain extent reinforced by a report from
European Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy who also pleads for higher wage
differentials, lower employment costs and greater flexibility. Both studies
also stress the importance of low labour costs and high returns on
A recent collective agreement signed at Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) provides
for the development of social dialogue and workers' participation, through
information and discussion on industrial policies and joint decision-making
on vocational training.
On 30 April 1997 the Ring of Free Labour (Ring Freiheitlicher Arbeitnehmer,
RFA), a group affiliated with the Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche
Partei Österreichs, FPÖ), held its federal congress. One of the points of
debate was whether to develop into a trade union outside the Austrian Trade
Union Federation (Österreichische Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB). Since 1945 there
have been no trade unions outside the ÖGB. The debate was triggered by the
RFA's failure to achieve caucus status in the ÖGB. The minimum requirement
of at least four affiliated works council members in each of at least three
trade unions has not been met.
At the beginning of May 1997, the State Prosecutor's consultative committee
issued a report questioning the legality of the provision of a state
guarantee for a bank loan made to the General Workers' Union (União Geral
dos Trabalhadores, UGT). A final decision on whether to take legal action to
ascertain the legality of the action is now expected from the State
Part-time workers have traditionally not been allowed into the same
occupational pension schemes as full-time workers, but because there are far
more women than men among part-timers the practice was challenged on the
grounds of sex discrimination through the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In
1994, the ECJ ruled in a set of linked cases that the practice did amount to
sex discrimination. The judgment was not welcomed by the then Conservative
Government, so the Trades Union Congress (TUC) advised qualifying individuals
that they should register their cases with industrial tribunals. After a
number of test cases in the UK tribunals, it was ruled that part-timers who
had been denied access to occupational pension schemes could not claim
backdated pension rights any further back that two years prior to the ECJ's
ruling - that is, 1992. After appeals were turned down, the cases are still
waiting to be heard by the House of Lords.
The importance of continuing vocational education is increasingly being
recognised by policy-makers across the European Union, not only because of
its positive impact on maintaining the competitiveness of enterprises, but
also because of its potential contribution to the free movement of labour and
the improvement of employment prospects. This is particularly important in
the context of the evolving "information society". The Commission has given
particular emphasis and resources to continuing training through its
vocational training programme, LEONARDO, and in declaring 1996 the European
Year of Lifelong Learning.
Occupational pension schemes are becoming more and more important in Italy
even though their full implementation is still difficult, both because the
legal framework has not yet been consolidated, and because their form and
content must be defined by the social partners through collective bargaining.
The latter point still remains problematic, as no agreement has yet been
reached as to whether pension schemes should be developed at national or
local level. Nevertheless, evidence from recent collective bargaining at
national and local levels shows that occupational pension scheme issues are
growing in importance.
Two separate committees - a group of professors appointed by the Government
and a committee of economists from the Finnish social partners - published
reports in early May 1997 on the industrial relations implications of EU
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) for Finland The social partners themselves
have adopted a joint declaration on EMU membership.
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.
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.
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.
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 use of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things technologies in the workplace can bring about fundamental changes in work organisation and working conditions. This report analyses the ethical and human implications of the use of these technologies at work by drawing on qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, input from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and Delphi expert surveys, and case studies.