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Key Facts

Collective Bargaining Coverage 50%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 41%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

Industry and company (varies with sector)

Workplace Representation

works council/employee delegates (with employee delegates planned to replace the works council in 2013)

Board-level Representation

yes: state-owned and private companies

Company Board Structure


Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Document Fulton NIR


Some milestones of the European Social Dialogue

European Company (Societas Europaea, SE)

The European Company (SE) has added additional facets on obligatory worker involvement at European level particularly by including – for the first time – participation rights at company board level. As of 8 October 2004 it became possible to establish a European Company (SE). The main purpose of the SE statute (EC 2157/2001) is to enable companies to operate their businesses on a cross-border basis in Europe under the same corporate regime. An important feature of this new company form is that – by means of the associated SE Directive (2001/86/EC) – obligatory negotiations on worker involvement in SEs were introduced which include the question of representation of the workforce at board level.


Workers are represented through the ETUC and European employers through BusinessEurope (former UNICE), UEAPME and CEEP:

Interprofessional European Social Dialogue

The involvement of the social partners at the European level is organised around three different types of activities:

  • The tripartite consultation comprises the exchanges between the social partners and the European public authorities.
  • The consultation of the social partners covers the activities of the consultative committees and official consultations in the spirit of Article 153 TFEU (Treaty on the functioning of the European Union) - For a complete overview of all consultations so far launched by the European Commission click here.
  • The European social dialogue as such is the name given to the bipartite work of the social partners, whether or not it stems from the official consultations of the Commission based on Articles 154 and 155 TFEU.


This section provides an overview of the outcomes of the Interprofessional European Social Dialogue, most notably the framework agreements, the frameworks of actions and the multi-annual work programmes.