Accueil » 56-4 ( 2001) » Négociation collective et régulation du marché du travail en Europe

Négociation collective et régulation du marché du travail en Europe

Evelyne Leonard


Quel est le rôle de la négociation collective dans la régulation du marché du travail et comment ce rôle évolue-t-il dans le cadre de l’intégration européenne ? Cet article défend l’hypothèse selon laquelle ont récemment émergé dans les pays de l’Union européenne des formes originales de régulation conjointe du marché du travail. Il propose tout d’abord un cadre d’analyse des évolutions récentes en matière de négociations portant sur l’emploi en Europe, avant d’examiner les évolutions nationales. Il met ainsi en évidence la coexistence de divers modes de régulation conjointe du marché du travail dans le contexte européen, pour examiner en finale la nature de cette régulation et ses enjeux pour les relations professionnelles.


Collective Bargaining and Labour Market Regulation in Europe

What is the role played by collective bargaining in the regulation of the labour market in the context of European integration? What are the current developments in that role? Building on research conducted in the fifteen countries of the European Union since 1998, this article examines the contention that recent developments in collective bargaining in the member states of the European Union represent an innovation in the joint regulation of the labour market.

The notion of joint regulation is defined in reference to Reynaud (1989, 2001), as sets of rules jointly defined by unions, employers and, in some cases, public authorities, as well as the processes by which these rules are created, transformed or suppressed. The issue of regulation of employment refers to bipartite or tripartite decisions on one or several of the major dimensions of the labour market: number of jobs, working hours, conditions of the access to the labour market, conditions for retirement, workforce flows in the labour market.

In order to highlight recent trends in bargaining and concertation on employment in Europe, the article proposes an analytical framework that addresses three questions. First, are there currently in European countries tripartite bargaining processes of a national scope dealing with employment? Secondly, to what extent are there bipartite collective bargaining processes dealing with employment? Finally, are there different forms of joint regulation of the labour market and, if so, what are they?

The article then examines recent national developments in terms of tripartite and bipartite bargaining on employment, and differentiates the forms adopted by these processes of joint regulation of the labour market at the end of the 1990s in the European Union. Four types of joint regulation are identified. The first type refers to national situations where there is tripartite concertation of employment policies at national level as well as bilateral negotiation at lower levels. In these situations, it follows that the social partners contribute both to the determination of employment policies and to employment measures that are negotiated in branches, regions and companies. In these cases, there is real co-responsibility for the labour market as described by Freyssinet and Seifert (1999), in which employment measures and their implementation are handed over jointly to governments, employers and unions. A second type corresponds to countries in which the government and the social partners meet to determine together key aspects of employment policies, without the issue of employment necessarily being addressed in bilateral negotiations at industry or enterprise levels. In the third type, there is no tripartite bargaining on the labour market, but industry and enterprise-level negotiators include the volume of labour in the issues that they negotiate. Finally, in the fourth situation, employment as such does not figure in the programmes of tripartite dialogue or in bilateral agreements, and the labour market is therefore not directly regulated by joint policies and agreements.

In conclusion, it is asked to what extent are these joint regulation processes original? It is argued that they are innovative in several ways. First, they initiate specific solutions that seek to organize a rapidly changing labour market within a converging European context, distinct national industrial systems and particular labour market characteristics. Secondly, they reflect a stronger co-ordination between bargaining levels, resulting in guidelines that lead to a series of negotiations at industry and at company levels. Thirdly, they reflect a growing interdependency between public authorities and social partners and, consequently, between the respective fields of public policies for employment and collective bargaining. Finally, they favour multidimensional agreements, including indirect measures intended to increase the number of jobs and participation rates, while many questions concerning their impact, for instance on the quality of work, remain unanswered. These new processes of joint regulation do not, however, change fundamentally the institutional industrial relations systems as these latter retain their key characteristics within each national context.


Negociación colectiva y regulación del mercado de trabajo en Europa

Cuál es el rol de la negociación colectiva en la regulación del mercado de trabajo y cómo evoluciona este rol en el marco de la integración europea? Este articulo defiende la hipótesis según la cual, en los países de la Unión Europea, habrían surgido formas originales de regulación conjunta del mercado de trabajo. Se propone, en primer lugar, un marco de análisis de las evoluciones recientes en materia de las negociaciones sobre el empleo en Europa, para luego examinar las evoluciones nacionales. Así, se pone en evidencia la coexistencia de diversos modos de regulacion conjunta del mercado de trabajo en el contexto europeo; y se examina, finalmente, la naturaleza de esta regulación y sus implicaciones respecto a las relaciones profesionales.