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08/11/2017

The impact of the European Semester on collective bargaining and wages over the recent years

WP C.S.D.L.E. “Massimo D’Antona”.INT – 138/2017



This paper has been written in the frame of the EU-funded project “DECOBA”, led by Fondazione Di Vittorio (Italy) and ran together with the following partner organisations: HIVA-KU Leuven (Belgium), Fundacion 1° Mayo (Spain), IRES (France), WSI (Germany), Università La Sapienza (Italy) and the ETUC. Its content is mainly based on positions and working documents of the ETUC, developed over the period 2015-2017 in the frame of the daily work on collective bargaining, wage policy and the European semester. To be soon published in Leonardi and Pedersini (eds.), Multi-employer bargaining under pressure. Decentralization trends in five European Countries, ETUI (forthcoming).


The paper analyses the impact the policies implemented via the European Semester have had on collective bargaining over the period from 2015 to 2017. Through a short recollection of what the semester is and how it works, the paper tries to reply to a question of fundamental importance, especially for the trade union movement: does the EU have competence on collective bargaining and wages? The author then explains the (change of) strategy adopted by the European Trade Union Confederation and its member organisations to cope with the economic governance and make it more social-oriented. Moving from this premise, the paper goes through the policies recommended by the European commission and implemented by the national governments and takes stock of their impact on collective bargaining. Taking into consideration first the whole EU, then focusing on the five target countries of the DECOBA project (led by Fondazione Di Vittorio): Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The conclusions eventually shed light on the paradoxical discrepancy between the declared objectives the policies put in place and their effective results. This will bring the author to underline the need for restoring the respect of social partners’ role and autonomy as well as for preserving and (re-)establishing sector collective bargaining at national level.

author(s): Bongelli, Kristian
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