Analysis of EU-level policies on strengthening collective bargaining and tackling inequality

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Confined to a role of ‘supporting and complementing’ Member States’ actions on working conditions and worker representation, the EU’s role in improving national policies in these areas has historically been rather limited. However, since its 2017 launch, the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) has been hailed as a landmark shift in EU social policy.

To examine developments in the areas of (minimum) wages, income inequality and collective bargaining since the EPSR, this report takes stock of the most recent policy initiatives taken by the European Commission and other EU institutions.

The initiatives are briefly introduced, followed by an overview of the relevant academic literature and an assessment of the views of social partners, i.e. EU-level trade unions and employer associations. In selecting the policy initiatives in the abovementioned areas, the European Pillar or Social Rights (EPSR) represents a good starting point.

The study was prepared in the framework of the ‘BFORE – Bargaining for Equality’ project funded by the European Commission under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation. The project is coordinated by HIVA-KU Leuven (Research Institute for Work and Society).