The European social model under pressure

The concept of the European social model has been central to the development of the European Union. Social inclusion, social rights, social dialogue and an important role for the social partners have been recognised as key elements of Europe and are among Europe's core values as defined in the draft Constitutional Treaty. These values are fundamental to preserving the trade union and worker support for the European Union that has clearly been slipping in many countries, given a widespread impression that the 'social' component of the European model has been getting lost.

This sixth edition of Benchmarking Working Europe documents some of the current problems the European social model is facing, including problems on European labour markets, social inequalities, initiatives to reduce workers' rights and European policy deficits. The report calls for a new policy mix of employment-friendly macroeconomic policies and active labour market and social policies against a background characterised by - as also described here - sluggish growth, unimpressive productivity gains and a lack of job creation in Europe, among other things. The key aims must be to counteract high unemployment and address social problems, skills shortages and demographic challenges. The data-driven report thus points in the direction of a conclusion that, if European societies are to remain competitive and socially balanced, a future-oriented European social model must be guaranteed and further developed.

'There is no trade-off between economic growth and social reforms. Social reforms must be an important part of developing modern and more knowledge-based European societies' states John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC.

The EU has so far been a positive force, enshrining in its work the trade union principles of social inclusion and solidarity, welfare states and services of general interest, and workers' participation and collective bargaining. The balance between economic dynamism with a social dimension is part of the social contract entered into as part of the construction of the single market. However, linking economic and social progress - a core element of the European social model (European Commission 2005e) - nevertheless remains a challenge. The EU 25 is faced not only with a population that is living longer but also with a worrying decline in fertility rates, in some countries far below population replacement rates. Wages are under pressure, decent working hours are under threat and the continuing resistance to implementation of some social EU directives calls for mobilisation of all the bodies concerned.

The Benchmarking Working Europe 2006 provides detailed information on the following areas of particular relevance to the world of labour in the EU (data supplied in graph and table form accompanied by explanatory texts):

  • The European social model
  • Macroeconomic developments and policy issues
  • Employment
  • Wages in the EU
  • Working time
  • Social protection and families
  • Lifelong learning redefined
  • Information, consultation and participation
  • Corporate governance: the role of workers' participation and corporate social responsibility
  • European social dialogue and implementation
  • EU in the world economy
Buy printed version
€ 20.00

Table of contents

Sample chapter: Working time

Related content

Benchmarking Working Europe 2020

→ A virus is haunting Europe. And it could strike again. This year’s 20th anniversary issue of our flagship... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2019

Benchmarking Working Europe, the annual stock-take of European economic, labour market and social affairs is published today by the European... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2018

This year's Benchmarking Working Europe focuses on whether the European Union is really on the path towards convergence. Analysing the state... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2017

This 2017 edition of Benchmarking working Europe focuses on the question 'overcoming cleavages across the EU?'. It analyses in four chapters... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2016

With this year’s chosen focus – ‘prepared for the future?’ – the new edition of Benchmarking working Europe analyses the state of working... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2015

Published every year, the report analyses the state of working Europe explaining with the aid of statistics and graphs the main trends in... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2014

The report Benchmarking Working Europe 2014 reviews the crisis and EU austerity policies in the last five years from the point of view of... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2013

Widening economic and social gaps among EU member states, as well as among different groups and categories of citizens within society, are... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2012

Since 2001, the ETUC and ETUI have produced Benchmarking Working Europe for the European Social Summit to draw attention to the state of... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2011

Is the Europe 2020 strategy leading us, as it promises, towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth? This is the main question addressed... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2010

This year's Benchmarking Working Europe report embarks upon a social stocktaking of the reaction to and impact of the financial, economic... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2009

This year’s report provides an assessment of Lisbon Strategy. It asks whether the EU is really moving in the direction of knowledge-based... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2008

Since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy, the ETUC together with the ETUI-REHS has produced an annual Benchmarking publication for the... Find out more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2007

EMPHASIS SHOULD BE PUT ON JOB QUALITY European labour markets face a range of significant challenges for which the current institutional and... Find out more