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Labour markets and social policy

EU labour markets and social policy are well-developed, including a significant number of EU social directives, and underpinned by social protection systems at national level.

First, there are around 70 EU social directives, protecting workers and giving them rights in areas such as health and safety, non-discrimination and information and consultation. The focus should be on proper implementation of existing social legislation, which does not mean lowering social standards, rather ensuring it protects workers without unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.

Second, social protection and social investment are part and parcel of the European social model. Expenditure on social protection is high in Europe compared with other world regions. On average it counts for two thirds of EU government expenditure.

EU labour markets are characterised by a number of structural weaknesses, not least an entrenched problem of unemployment. Some groups in society, such as women, young people or older workers, continue to be under-represented in employment. The crisis has increased the challenge, but the problems are not new.

High unemployment rates in Europe are to a large extent due to the inefficiency and under-performance of labour markets. Companies still face challenges in terms of unnecessary rigidities in labour law, excessively high non-wage labour costs and skills mismatches. Structural weaknesses are also caused by a mismatch between the skills provided by education and training and those needed on the labour markets.

BusinessEurope calls for reforms which encourage companies to create jobs, motivate people to work, and ensure adequate and sustainable social protection. Improving learning outcomes in line with labour market needs is another key challenge on European labour markets.


Reports and studies Date
Building on experiences a win-win approach to transnational industrial relations in multinational companies - final report 05/12/2018
Future European Social Fund - Better supporting capacity building of social partner organisations 29/06/2018
European social partners' autonomous framework agreement on active ageing and an inter-generational approach 08/03/2017
Diversity is good for business - Promoting diversity is an added value for companies and society 13/07/2016
In-depth employment analysis by the European social partners - BusinessEurope, CEEP, ETUC and UEAPME 14/07/2015
Future of social Europe: challenges and the way ahead 28/11/2014
Putting Europe to work - The case for labour market reforms 01/07/2011
Position papers Date
Annual growth survey 2019: consultation of European social partners - Employers views 12/10/2018
Proposal for establishing a European Labour Authority - a BusinessEurope position paper 07/05/2018
Council Recommendation on access to social protection - a BusinessEurope position paper 19/04/2018
Commission proposal for a Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions – BusinessEurope’s views 26/02/2018
European labour authority and EU social security number - BusinessEurope views 12/01/2018
Second-phase consultation of social partners under Article 154 TFEU on a possible action addressing the challenges of access to social protection for people in all forms of employment in the framework of the European pillar of social rights 04/01/2018
European pillar of social rights - A BusinessEurope orientation paper 30/06/2017
Active labour market policies - a BusinessEurope position paper 22/06/2017
Revision of social security coordination regulation - a BusinessEurope position paper 06/06/2017
'More competitiveness to sustain the social dimension of Europe' - Employer key messages 18/01/2017
EU cross-industry employers joint statement on the employment and social affairs aspects of the 2017 Annual Growth Survey 26/10/2016
European Pillar of Social Rights – BusinessEurope contribution to the debate 25/08/2016
Addressing the challenges of work-life balance faced by working parents and caregivers - BusinessEurope response to first-stage social partner consultation 15/12/2015
Annual growth survey 2016: consultation of European social partners - Employers views 07/10/2015
EU social security coordination - BusinessEurope response to the public consultation 07/10/2015
Press releases Date
European social partners to sign framework agreement on active ageing 08/03/2017
Posting of workers: Don’t divide EU - fight illegal practices 20/07/2016


Maxime Cerutti

+32 2 237 65 30
Last updated: 5 July 2016