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Sadowski, Dieter
Ludewig, Oliver
Turk, Florian
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
IAAEG Discussion Paper Series 2002/06
The Treaty of Maastricht (1993) and the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) strongly institutionalised and formalised the relationship between the social partners at the level of the European Union (EU). It is self-evident that notion of social dialogue also includes collective bargaining, the conclusion of agreements between the social partners. Collective bargaining, however, is a delicate flower. Indeed, quite a number of questions pop up over which opinions, especially between the social partners, diverge. Then there is the reality of the power relationship between the European socials partners; the European trade unions are nearly powerless when it comes to pushing the employers to the bargaining table. The social partners were empowered, within the social dialogue, to negotiate agreements, which the European Commission can subsequently adopt as directives (Article 137 to 139 EC). This formalised process, termed bargained legislationE by Biagi (1999), grants the social partners a mandate to initiate legislation in certain areas. Although many other substantial rights and regulations, such as a labour dispute law, are lacking at the European level, the process of bargained legislation is a stronger instrument to influence legislation than most social partners in the European Union member states have at their disposal (BIAGI 1999). Notwithstanding this potential, however, at the inter-industry level only three agreements, affecting substantial portions of the European workforce, have to date been concluded. These covered minimum standards on parental leave, part time work, and fixed-term work (HORNUNG-DRAUS 2001). Since the European Commission introduced some of these topics into the social dialogue as early as 1990, the number of successful agreements must be considered extremely low, and it is only fair to conclude that the new framework did not boost the Europeanisation of industrial relations.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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