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We are all Greeks!


The attack on workers’ rights, wages and collective bargaining systems in Europe is continuing. The latest incident can be found in the new DG ECFIN report on labour market developments in Europe.

This report has a specific chapter examining those labour market reforms which member states have implemented over the past decade. This analysis is based on the so called LABREF database. The Commission, in cooperation with the Economic Policy Committee, has been developing this database since 2005 (for those unfamiliar with it, the Economic Policy Committee advises the ECFIN council on the issue of reform of economic policies and is composed of member state representatives from finance and/or economic ministries).


The LABREF database collects information on 9 broad labour market policy domains. These cover labour taxes, unemployment benefit systems, job protection institutions, active labour market policies and wage setting institutions. The database mainly describes the aim and main features of the labour market reforms that have been carried out. In addition however, the database also assigns binary indicators to each policy measure that has been taken. Reforms considered being ‘employment friendly’ gets a score of minus 1. On the other hand, reforms that are not supposed to impact in a positive way on employment are counted with a score of plus 1. This makes it possible to assess the ongoing process of labour market policy reforms in a quantitative way.


For example, one of the trends which the chapter picks up is that reforms in wage setting systems have become more frequently ‘employment friendly’ in the aftermath of the financial crisis: Whereas hardly any member state engaged in a so called ‘employment-friendly’ reform of wage setting in 2006 and 2007, the number of countries doing so started to increase rapidly from 2008 and 2009 on. For 2010, the LABREF database registers that half of all EU member states have implemented a reform of wage setting system that would be ‘employment friendly ‘.