Our work in the regions


© Golffoto/Photocase.com

The political framework and the role of trade unions

"Europe is not in a good shape." (J.C. Juncker, September 2015)

Up to 2008 EU countries were still converging in terms of working conditions and living standards. Since then, however, social inequality has been increasing again, unemployment has risen, in particular among the young, to scandalous levels and so-called »atypical« employment has become increasingly »normal« and often precarious.

Policies »to boost the competitiveness« of European countries have aimed mainly at lowering wages and undermining trade unions. The number of areas without collective bargaining coverage is increasing and real wages have mainly been negative in many European countries since 2008. Furthermore, they have lagged behind productivity.

The advent of populist and nationalist tendencies and – falling to a new low – Brexit make it clear that a growing proportion of the European population regard globalisation and Europeanisation rather as a threat than as an opportunity, casting grave doubt on European promises of social advance and prosperity.

FES trade union activities

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s international trade union activities are based on the conviction that jobs paying decent wages represent a key condition of social Europe. Strong and future-oriented trade unions, in turn, are the best guarantee that competitiveness, social justice and decent incomes can be brought into line.

Of particular importance to our project is the promotion of trade unions in central and eastern Europe. Among other things it produces annual analyses of the social and trade union situation in selected countries.


FES in Germany

Jörg Bergstermann
Division for International Dialogue
Hiroshimastrasse 28
D-10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 26935-7744
Fax: +49 (0)30 26935-9249


FES Labour Relations and Social Dialogue in Central Eastern & South East Europe

Matthias Weber
Maróthyho 6
SK-81106 Bratislava, Slovakia
Tel.: +421-2-59308271







Further information:

Annual Reviews of Labour Relations and Social Dialogue in different countries

Book: Rough waters
European trade unions
in a time of crises

by Lehndorf, Dribbusch, Schulten (eds.), 2017

FES Perspective:
Work in the Future

by Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), August 2015
Portuguese version

FES Study
Minimum Wage Regimes in Europe
Thorsten Schulten, February 2014

FES Study
»Atypical Employment« is Becoming a Norm, but have Pension Systems Responded Yet?
Karin Schulze Buschoff, September 2015

FES Briefing:
The Right to Strike Struck Down?
A global survey of recent trends
Edlira Xhafa, May 2016
- French Version
- Spanish Version

More publications about the Europe region