Chapter 2: Strengthening the representativeness of the social partners and their institutional capacity to shape labour markets through social dialogue
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The main objective of this chapter is to analyse the transformations of IR systems and social dialogue in Europe during the last three decades and the extent to which we observe some convergence/divergence. The last decades have seen a clear decline in union density and coverage rates of collective bargaining and a marked tendency towards decentralisation of collective bargaining. The period has therefore been characterised by a weakening of the capacity of social partners to regulate the labour market and to an increase of state interventions (labour market deregulation) leaving more scope to market forces and/or unilateral decisions of employers regarding pay and working conditions. If the policy objective of the EU and its member states is to move towards IR systems characterised by powerful and autonomous social partners playing a crucial role in the production of labour market norms, there is a long way to go. Uncertainty therefore continues to overshadow the political and institutional conditions needed for convergence towards an IR regime favouring labour market governance based on autonomous and strong social partners.

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