Some first national attempts to strengthen bargaining coverage
Principle 8 of the EPSR contains the explicit commitment to encourage the collective bargaining actors ‘to negotiateand conclude agreements in matters relevant to them, while respecting their autonomy and the right to collective action’ (European Commission 2017a: 33). One way to assess the extent of collective bargaining is the collective bargaining coverage, which indicates the share of employees who are covered by a collective agreement. Figure 3.11 provides anoverview of the collective bargaining coverage in the EU Member States before and after the crisis. Figure 3.11 illustrates that the highest and most stable collective bargaining coverage exists in those countries whose bargaining systems are characterised by multi employer bargaining, where negotiations mainly take place at sectoral or, in some cases such as Belgium and until recently Finland, even at cross-sectoral level. Further crucial characteristics of extensive collective bargainingsystems are, first, the existence of legal extensionmechanisms (or functional equivalents) that ensure thatcollective agreements also apply to companies which didnot sign the agreement or which are not members of the employers’ federation that signed the agreement; and second, the existence of broad-based bargaining parties like in Denmark and Sweden, where no legal extensionme chanism exists and where high bargaining coverage solely rests on the organisational strength of the two bargaining parties. By contrast, the lowest coverage can be found in countries with single-employer bargaining arrangements. This applies in particular to a range of central and eastern European countries, such as the Baltic states, Hungary and Poland, where coverage decreased even though it was already at a fairly low level before the crisis.