A meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council was held in Luxembourg on 2-3 June 2003 under the Greek Presidency.
Ministers debated a range of employment and social policy issues, with
varying degrees of success.
The issue of company directors’ pay is highly topical in the UK following
regulations in 2002 to introduce a clearer role for shareholders (UK0111101N
). With greater transparency has come controversy over the links between
boardroom pay and corporate performance. In June 2003, the government issued
a consultative document looking at best practice and legislative options
concerning directors’ severance payments, with trade unions calling for a
tougher regulatory framework.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) held its10th statutory congress
 in Prague on 26-29 May 2003, under the slogan 'Make Europe work for the
people'. ETUC currently has 78 member organisations (national trade union
confederations and centres) from 34 countries in western, central and eastern
Europe, as well as 11 sectoral European industry federations, making a total
of 60 million affiliated members. The congress is the supreme authority of
ETUC and meets every four years (the ninth congress was held in 1999 -
EU9907182F ). The congress is composed of delegates from the affiliated
organisations in proportion to their membership. It elects the members of the
executive committee, the president, the general secretary and the two deputy
The government announced in May 2003 that it intends to introduce legislation
on corporate manslaughter, with details to follow in the autumn. The home
secretary, David Blunkett, said: 'there is great public concern at the
criminal law's lack of success in convicting companies of manslaughter where
a death has occurred due to gross negligence by the organisation as a whole.
The law needs to be clear and effective in order to secure public confidence
and must bite properly on large corporations whose failure to set or maintain
standards causes a death.'
On 8 May 2003, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled (in case C-171/01
 /Wählergruppe Gemeinsam Zajedno v Birlikte Alternative und Grüne
GewerkschafterInnen/UG/) that the Republic of Austria must allow employees of
Turkish nationality to be eligible to stand as candidates for election to the
general assembly of the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK). The judgment
resulted from a case referred by the Austrian Constitutional Court
(Verfassungsgerichtshof, VfGH) to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling in March
2001. The VfGH - Austria's highest court for matters including elections to
statutory representative bodies in the industrial relations field, such as
the Chamber of Labour - had referred the matter to the ECJ since the former's
members had been undecided as to whether Community law was in conflict with
the Austrian legislation which excludes workers who are citizens of countries
outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from eligibility to stand for
election as officers in the Chamber of Labour (AT9802168N ).
This article outlines a range of initiatives being undertaken by the UK's
Trades Union Congress (TUC) and its affiliated unions aimed at combating
disability discrimination and promoting equal rights for workers with
disabilities, in the context of 2003 being designated by the EU as the
European Year of People with Disabilities  (EU0209201N ), and
European-level social partner statements in this area.
Dans l’Union européenne, l’année 2002 a en général été marquée par
un ralentissement de la croissance économique, une hausse du chômage et une
recrudescence de l’inflation. Il n’est pas surprenant dans ce contexte
que les salaires - et notamment les appels à la modération salariale -
aient revêtu autant sinon davantage d’importance dans les relations
industrielles. Par ailleurs, l’évolution des salaires a plus que jamais
été un thème phare en 2002, année où l’Union économique et monétaire
(UEM) de l’UE est entrée dans une nouvelle phase avec l’introduction des
billets et des pièces en euros dans les 12 pays de la 'zone euro'. Les
avancées de l’UEM impliquent que les pays de la zone euro ne pouvant plus
utiliser les taux de change et les taux d’intérêt comme moyens de
compensation des déséquilibres des performances économiques, la politique
salariale a dû jouer un rôle de plus en plus important pour corriger ces
déséquilibres. En outre, dans le cadre de l’UEM, l’évolution des
salaires constitue un facteur clé pour déterminer si l’économie de
l’UE connaît une tendance inflationniste ou déflationniste.
L’introduction de l’euro a par ailleurs amélioré la transparence en
matière de comparaison des niveaux de salaire en Europe.
In der gesamten Europäischen Union war 2002 generell ein Jahr, in dem sich
das Wirtschaftswachstum verlangsamte, die Arbeitslosigkeit zunahm und sich
die Inflation verstärkte. Es ist nicht überraschend, dass in diesem Kontext
die Entlohnung - und insbesondere Aufforderungen in Bezug auf maßvolle
Lohnforderungen - ihre zentrale Bedeutung für die Arbeitsbeziehungen behielt
und sogar noch ausbaute. Zudem standen im Jahr 2002 die Lohnentwicklungen
stärker als je zuvor im Brennpunkt des Interesses, da in diesem Jahr die
Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion (WWU) der EU mit der Einführung von
Euro-Banknoten und -Münzen in den zwölf Ländern des 'Euro-Gebiets' in eine
neue Phase trat. Der Fortschritt der WWU bedeutet, dass sich die
Aufmerksamkeit mehr und mehr auf die Entlohnung als Mittel für die Anpassung
an wirtschaftliche Ungleichgewichte richten wird, da die Länder des
Euro-Gebiets für derartige Anpassungen keine Wechselkurse und Zinssätze
mehr verwenden können. Ferner sind innerhalb der WWU die Lohnentwicklungen
ein Schlüsselfaktor dafür, ob sich die Wirtschaft der EU in Richtung einer
Inflation oder einer Deflation entwickelt. Durch die Einführung des Euro
sind Lohnvergleiche innerhalb Europas auch transparenter geworden.
This report outlines the proceedings from a Foundation seminar on the theme of interactions between the labour market and social protection. The main conclusion to emerge is that interactions between the labour market and social protection are complex but very necessary in the current situation in Europe. Creative policy mixes are needed in order to make the trajectories of policy reform successful. They will lead to more sustainability of the European social model. The seminar expanded on work done previously by the Foundation such as the first Foundation paper on quality of work and employment. It referred also to a number of more specific projects, which are/have been carried out by the Foundation such as ‘negotiating the conditions of flexibility’, ‘pacts for employment and competitiveness’, and ‘integrated approaches towards the activation of minimum-income recipients’.
In May 2003, the white-collar Confederation of Vocational Unions
(Yrkesorganisasjonenes Sentralforbund, YS) participated for the first time in
the statutory congress  of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC),
held in Prague. Over the previous year or so, YS had joined international
trade union organisations at the Nordic, European and global level - ie the
Council of Nordic Trade Unions (Norden Faglige Samorganisasjon, NFS ),
ETUC, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU ).
YS had long aspired to become a member of these organisations, and its
leader, Randi Bjørgan, stated in a press release that she was delighted
finally to be able to represent YS at the ETUC congress. She emphasised in
her speech at the congress that the issues facing Norwegian trade unions are
also important issues in other countries, and that the congress confirmed the
value of cooperation to tackle these issues through the European trade union
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
Eurofound's representativness 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 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.
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.
As part of an annual series on minimum wages, this report summarises the key developments during 2020 and early 2021 with an emphasis on social partners’ roles and views. It looks at how minimum wages were set in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and how minimum wages act as a reference for income support measures. Information from interviews with decision-makers on the process of setting the minimum wage in 2020, along with their assessment of impacts of the proposed EU Directive on adequate minimum wages is also included.
This joint publication with the European Environment Agency (EEA) presents the findings from complementary research carried out simultaneously by both agencies on the socioeconomic impacts of climate policies and measures. While Eurofound focuses particularly on the distributional effects of these policies based on the experiences of Member States, the EEA analyses scientific research about the monetary and non-monetary social impacts of climate mitigation policies and its outcome in terms of inequalities.
While the EU is considered to be a global leader in gender equality, it is not yet a reality for millions of Europeans given the different dynamics in the Member States. The EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025 acknowledges the slow speed of progress and outlines key actions to promote gender equality. Have all countries improved their performance? Which countries have been able to dramatically reduce gender inequality? Which countries lag behind?
The European Green Deal features high on Member State agendas. However, there are concerns that the necessary changes to climate policy may have undesirable socioeconomic consequences, such as regressive distributional effects and increased inequality. This report attempts to identify those policies where there is a significant risk involved and aims to provide guidance on how negative distributional risk can be mitigated.
Based on data from the European Company Survey 2019, this policy brief examines the characteristics of innovative companies and explores the types of workplace practices that are significantly associated with establishments' likelihood of introducing innovation. It also investigates differences between workplace practices of innovative and non-innovative companies. Additionally, data gathered through case studies analyse the role of workplace practices in different phases of the innovation process.
This report investigates the convergence of Member States in various dimensions of living conditions. Indicators are drawn from the European Quality of Life Surveys and other surveys. The analysis pays special attention to particular subgroups such as young people and women. The analysis also investigates the key drivers of convergence in living conditions.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, a high demand for labour and low unemployment levels made labour shortages one of the key policy concerns in the EU. Even where there is persistent and rising unemployment, individual countries, sectors and occupations are experiencing labour shortages, which in some instances have been accentuated by COVID-19. This report explores various approaches to measuring labour shortages and maps national policy debates around the issue.
As the EU embarks on the transition to a climate-neutral economy, it is crucial to understand the impact of such a transition on production models, employment, work organisation, working conditions, social dialogue and citizens’ lives and living conditions.
The issue of regional convergence and whether disadvantaged regions are catching up with wealthier regions continues to attract enormous attention in the policy debate. This report presents the findings of an investigation into the evolution of social imbalances across EU regions over time, based on indicators including unemployment, social exclusion and poverty. It also examines various aspects of the relationship between growth, regional disparities and interpersonal inequalities.
Digital technologies have made it possible for many workers to carry out their work anytime and anywhere, with consequent advantages and disadvantages. Disadvantages, for remote workers and teleworkers in particular, include the risk to health and well-being linked to long working hours. To address this issue, there have been calls for the ‘right to disconnect’. This report includes case studies that chart the implementation and impact of the right to disconnect at workplace level.