EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

European trade union federation


European trade union federations are constituent members of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). According to Article 1 of the Constitution of the ETUC: ‘The European Trade Union Confederation shall consist of National Trade Union Confederations and European Industry Federations.’ Article 5 stipulates: ‘The European industry federations are organisations of trade unions within one or more public or private economic sectors. They represent the interests of workers in their sectors at the European level, principally in negotiation.’


The European trade union federations are represented in the ETUC’s Congress (Article 8), Executive Committee (Article 14) and Steering Committee (Article 21). There are 12 affiliated European trade union federations, as follows:

EAEA European Arts and Entertainment Alliance
EUROCOP European Confederation of Police
EFBWW/FETBB European Federation of Building and Woodworkers/Fédération Européenne des Travailleurs du Bâtiment et du Bois
EFFAT European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions/Fédération Européenne des Syndicats de l’Alimentation, de l’Agriculture et du Tourisme
EFJ/FEJ European Federation of Journalists/Fédération Européenne des Journalistes
EMCEF European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation/Fédération Européenne des Syndicats des Mines, de la Chimie et de l’Energie
EMF/FEM European Metalworkers’ Federation/Fédération Européenne des Métallurgistes
EPSU European Federation of Public Service Unions/Fédération Syndicale Européenne des Services Publics
ETF European Transport Workers’ Federation/Fédération Européenne des Travailleurs des Transports
ETUCE/CSEE European Trade Union Committee for Education/Comité Syndical Européen de l’Éducation
ETUF-TCL/FSE-THC European Trade Union Federation - Textiles Clothing and Leather/Fédération Syndicale Européenne du Textile, de l’Habillement et du Cuir
UNI-EUROPA Union Network International

All of these European trade union federations are consulted as social partners by the European Commission under article 154 of the TFEU.

The European Commission also considers as social partners some organisations that are not affiliated to the ETUC:

CESI European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions
ECA European Cockpit Association
FIA International Federation of Actors
IFM International Federation of Musicians
FIF-Pro International Federation of Professional Footballers’ Associations — Division Europe

Two examples will illustrate the structure of European trade union representation. First, at a European level, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), established in 1958, represents labour in the construction industry, the building materials industry, the wood and furniture industry and the forestry industry. The EFBWW has some 75 affiliated member unions, as in some Member States more than one union is affiliated. The Federation represents a total of 2,350,000 members in 31 countries. However, the level of union membership within the industry varies greatly between countries. Secondly, the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) was created as a separate body in the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), founded in 1893, and was established in 1971. The EMF represents 75 metalworking unions from 34 countries with a combined total of 5.5 million members.

See also: cross-border trade union cooperation; European sectoral social dialogue; European social dialogue; European social partners; EU system of industrial relations; representativeness; sectoral coordination of collective bargaining; sectoral employer federations.


Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.


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