BM 2018 coverOn the 20/03/2018 the annual report on socio-economic developments in the European Union in 2018 was published. The report is a common publication by the European Trade Union Institute and the European Trade Union Confederation published yearly since 2001 and features brief analyses, facts and figures as well as critical evaluation of developments in the EU.

This year's Benchmarking Working Europe focuses on whether the European Union is really on the path towards convergence.

Chapter 5 of the publication focuses on social policy-making and workers' representation.

Benchmarking Working Europe 2018 - the big picture

The report cricically analyses the state of 'working Europe' with the aid of a multi-level and multi-dimensional set of indicators and asseses what current EU policies have achieved or failed to deliver on. The 2018 edition of the Benchmarking Working Europe demonstrates that, despite renewed economic growth in GDP terms, the proceeds of this growth are being unequally shared and structural problems in the areas of education, infrastructure and R&D persist. The root causes for this are the EU's obsession with labour market deregulation and fiscal austerity.

The report warns that Europe’s labour market remains deeply divided and divergent. In consequence, that the fruits of growth are being shared unequally and pose a threat to the sustainability of the European recovery. Each of the 5 chapters analyses whether policies help or hinder the goal of convergence. Authors, being researchers of the ETUI, provide an assessment of the current policy stance and provide fact based policy suggestions for solutions that should be put in place in order for Europe to generate higher living standards for all, based on fair integration and upwards social convergence.

Social policy-making and workers' participation

This chapter builds upon the assessment of social policymaking in Chapters 2 and 3.

It features contributions on:

1) the European Pillar of Social Rights and the presence and role of workers' right therein;

A brief overview of the potential contribution of the European Pillar of Social Rights towards strengthening the social dimension of the EU is followed by a critical look at its impact on workers’ rights in particular.

2) the social outcomes of the REFIT process;

We take a critical look at the underlying rationale of the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme and explore some of its actual social outcomes.

3) European Works Councils (converging research evidence on known problems, trade union demands for legal changes, renegotiation of EWC agreements, East-West divide and pre-requisites for setting up new EWCs);

We bring together research evidence and practitioners’ experience with European Works Councils (EWCs), focusing on their conclusions about the current state of play and target areas for improvement. We look at the east-west divide among EWCs and, with dwindling hopes for a reform of the legal framework, we look at the potential for individual EWCs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps by renegotiating their founding agreements; we also identify the factors which continue to hamper the establishment of new EWCs.

4) Workers' collective voice as an asset benefiting all workers: what are the benefits and how stronger ‘worker voice’ makes countries more cohesive;

5) Gender (in)equality in boardroom;

6) European board-level employee representation, varying seat allocation mechanisms and different roads leading to BLER;

We look at the myriad ways in which mandates have been negotiated in the Societas Europaea (SEs), take stock of initiatives to promote gender equality in company boards, and explore the links between territoriality and workers’ rights in this area.

7) Cross-border company mobility: do companies favour 'low tax' countries and do letterbox companies undermine cohesion in Europe

In anticipation of the EU Commission’s long-announced ‘company mobility package’, we assess the limited available evidence, particularly with respect to its impact on tax justice.


Taking stock of recent developments in social policymaking and particularly workers’ participation, this chapter concludes that the overall trend is one of stagnation as we continue to wait for long-promised reforms and improvement.

Benchmarking Working Europe can be downloaded for free from the ETUI website.

Further information and key findings can be found here.

For more questions please contact the ETUI's Communications and Publications Department.