European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

Monitoring and development

The ETUI has in recent decades put a big focus on the development of European labour law, keeping the national implementation of specific European labour laws under review. With support from the NETLEX network of European trade union legal experts the ETUI has carried out a range of studies on social Directives. It also closely monitors the revision of EU labour laws to provide scientific analysis and influence amendments towards the promotion of workers’ rights.

Recent research outputs have dealt among other things with: 

Revision of Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC

The European Union adopted a Directive on working time in 1993, which has since been amended and codified. The Working Time Directive ensures that the maximum average weekly working time in the EU is 48 hours (including overtime) and regulates key matters like rest, breaks, annual leave and night work for workers in Europe. A revision of the Directive has been on the agenda for the last six years due to the controversial opt-out and the issue of on-call working. A first social partner consultation on the revision of the Directive proved unsuccessful; a second consultation has recently been launched.
More information: European Commission website  

Revision of the working time directive. What is the state of play?
Warneck, Wiebke. Brussels : Transfer. European Review of Labour and Research, 2009, vol. 15, n° 1, Spring, 149-153.

Recast of the European Works Council Directive

The first EWC Directive was adopted on 22 September 1994. In 2011, around 974 EWCs are operating, giving a voice to an estimated 17.9 million employees. But timely, comprehensive information on management decisions has rarely been forthcoming. Most EWCs have not been properly informed and consulted, so preventing them from playing an effective role in anticipating and managing change. Although a revision was planned by September 1999, it was not until 6 May 2009 that a "recast" EWC Directive was finally adopted. The deadline for transposition into Member States’ national legislation is 5 June 2011.
More information: ETUI website and

European works councils. A transnational industrial relations institution in the making
Waddington, Jeremy. London : Routledge, 2010 , XXI, 277 p.

Temporary Agency Work Directive 2008/104/EC

This Directive lays down a general framework for the working conditions of agency workers within the European Union. It aims to ensure that agency employees have a minimum level of protection and to help develop the temporary work sector as a flexible option for employers and workers alike. The Directive establishes the principle of non-discrimination with regard to essential working and employment conditions between an agency employee and an employee of the user undertaking to which the temporary worker is assigned.

Consultation on revision of Posting of Workers Directive 96/71/EC

Free movement of workers is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty on European Union. Posted workers are workers employed in one EU Member State but sent by their employer to work for him temporarily in another Member State. For example, a service provider may win a contract in another country and send his employees there to carry out the contract. To ensure that posted workers’ rights and working conditions are protected throughout the European Union, and to avoid "social dumping" whereby foreign service providers can undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower, Directive 96/71/EC lays down a core of mandatory rules on terms and conditions of employment to be applied to employees posted to work in another Member State. These rules will reflect the standards of local workers in the host Member State (that is, where the employee is sent to work). The idea is that where a Member State has certain minimum terms and conditions of employment, these must also apply to workers posted to that State. However, an employer is free to apply working conditions that are more favourable to workers such as those of the sending member State (that is, where the employee usually works).

However, the evidence is that Directive 96/71/EC is not correctly implemented in the Member States. Also, recent ECJ case law has placed a very restrictive interpretation on Directive 96/71/EC, which has resulted in social dumping. A revision of Directive 96/71/EC could address such developments through a new framework of firm and fair rules combining open borders and adequate protection of workers developed both at national and EU level to support the achievement of a genuine internal market in which goods, capital, services and workers can move around to the benefit of citizens, economies and societies. As part of the social partner consultation carried out by the European Commission (under Article 152 TFEU), the ETUI has developed an in-depth analysis of Directive 96/71/EC and its implementation loopholes, as well as the social consequences of ECJ recent case law (see case Viking-Laval-Rueffert).

More information on ETUC website 


Zane Rasnača Senior Researcher

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