Autonomy of Social Partner


This question relates to the autonomy of social partners and the existence of constrictions applied to the right of collective bargaining and action. Within the workplace, participation of employees in decision-making can also make an important contribution to the development of an organisation and the maintenance of working conditions. The proportion of employees that are represented by trade unions can increase participation as well as acting as a monitor of workers' rights.

Guiding Question

Does the policy option affect the autonomy of the social partners in the areas for which they are competent? Does it, for example, affect the right of collective bargaining at any level or the right to take collective action?

Relevant Policies

DG Employment: Consultation of social partners (
Article 154 embodies the social subsidiarity, for the European social partners are given the right to be consulted on any new social European initiative. Article 154 of the EC Treaty provides for the consultation of social partner organisations at European level on a range of issues concerning employment and social affairs set out in Article 153 of the Treaty. Article 154 provides for a compulsory two-stage consultation procedure: in the first stage the Commission consults the social partners on the possible direction of an initiative, whilst in the second stage, the focus is on the content of an initiative. This process enables the European social partners to directly influence the drafting of social proposals. More, during this phase, social partners may suspend the Commission initiative whilst deciding to enter into negotiations. If neither stage of the consultation results in a decision by the social partners to enter into bipartite negotiations, while the Commission still considers that Community action is desirable, the Commission will undertake the preparation of a legislative proposal.


Please link to relevant Directorate General Contact Details.

Web Resources

Further sources of data

Please link to other sources of data, e.g. important reports, annual reports etc.

Further sources of information

The Working Paper Nr. 59 on Social Dialogue Indicators by the International Labour Office (


Eurostat Indicators

To the best of the LIAISE team knowledge, there are no indicators in the Eurostat database or in any other authoritative publicly available databases that are directly related to this key question. Users are invited to contribute their own knowledge to this topic by contacting the LIAISE team.

Other Official Indicators

The Working Paper Nr. 59 on Social Dialogue Indicators by the International Labour Office ( offers some indicators for assessing ‘bargaining’ capacities at company level:
Rates of collective bargaining coverage
Different coverage rates assess the share of workers who have the legal right to collectively bargain. The numerator, or unit of workers covered for the calculation of coverage rates, may be:

  • number of all employees covered, or
  • number of all workers covered (including members who are not employees).

Adjusted coverage rate (ACR) accounts for certain groups of workers not enjoying the right to bargain collectively. It evaluates the importance of bargaining by eligible groups as an alternative to unilateral decisions by employers and individual bargaining.

  • ACR = Covered employees / (Wage and salaried employees – ineligible groups)* 100%.

Unadjusted coverage rate (UCR1) could be covered employees compared to all wage and salaried workers, whether or not the denominator includes certain categories of worker (e.g. teachers, police) not entitled to bargain collectively:

  • UCR1 = Covered employees / All wage and salaried employees* 100%.

Unadjusted coverage rate (UCR2) could be covered employees, excluding agricultural workers covered directly or indirectly by collective agreements, compared to the non-agricultural labour force (non-agricultural employed plus the unemployed):

  • UCR2 = (Covered employees – agricultural workers covered) / The non-agricultural labour force* 100%.

Unadjusted coverage rate (UCR3) could be covered total or civilian employees compared to the total or civilian labour force (total or civilian employed plus unemployed):

  • UCR3 = Covered employees [- military]) / Total [or civilian] labour force* 100%.

Use of a labour force concept in the denominator introduces worker categories within self-employment (e.g. own-account workers, contributing family workers) that traditionally may not have been covered by collective agreements.