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Keywords:

  • collective agreement;
  • collective bargaining;
  • social policy;
  • public sector;
  • private sector;
  • EU countries

Abstract.

Based on an analysis of collective agreements concluded across the EU in 2008–11, the authors examine their contributions to social policy through provisions for short-time work, training, wage moderation, and flexibilization of wage setting and working time. They highlight the distinction between the public and private sectors in this respect, contrasting the former's very limited scope for integrative bargaining in the face of mounting budget deficits and austerity with the latter's (initially) more balanced trade-offs between cost competitiveness and maintenance of employment and wages, especially in countries with coordinated bargaining systems. Elsewhere, the authors argue, the outcomes look set to deteriorate further.