For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.
The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced labour Studies–Hugo Sinzheimer institute (AIAS-HSI) coordinates the international research project CODEBAR: Comparisons in decentralised bargaining: towards new relations between trade unions and works councils? This project addresses from an interdisciplinary and multi-level governance perspective, the social partners’ responses to downward pressures on the locus of collective bargaining and the subsequent increasing involvement of workers’ representation at the company level. CODEBAR analyses the backgrounds, practises and effects of decentralised bargaining at the company level in eight EU Member States: France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

Background of the project

One of the main trends in collective bargaining across Europe since the 1980s is decentralization, involving a shift from multi-employer to single-employer bargaining. This general trend is confirmed in recent research, although nuanced by variations in national developments regarding the initiating actors and the intensity and patterns of decentralization processes and different factors that account for national differences. In some countries decentralization is aimed by governments or by social partners, trying to make collective agreements more responsive to the needs and conditions of individual companies. Other experiences in Europe are more ‘wild’ or relate to autonomous processes at the company level, resulting in less national and sectoral coordination in regulating employment relations. Pathways and degrees of decentralization are effected by the  strategies and power resources of bargaining parties in the context of (renewed) collective bargaining regimes, and in some countries also by jurisdictions and powers of (non-)unionized employee representation at the company and workplace levels.

Focus in research

The focus of the project can be summarized in the following research questions:

1. What are the backgrounds, aims and responses on decentralization in collective bargaining structures and what are the (new) opportunities and limits in company level bargaining?
2. What are the (new) strategies and power resources of employers and trade unions in shaping decentralization and in company level bargaining? Do (non-) unionized bodies of employee representation (such as works councils) play a role as substitutes or as partners of unions in decentralized bargaining?
3. What are results of (new) decentralized bargaining practices regards to balance and scope in negotiations and agreements? Do partnerships or conflicts emerge in the relationships between individual employers and trade unions and, if relevant, between the different representative workers’ bodies within the companies?

Deliverables of the project

CODEBAR will produce the following deliverables:

  • 8 national reports, including 3-5 case studies in decentralised bargaining in each country
  • An overview report comparing the findings of the 8 country studies
  • An open access eBook
  • Video-blogs with non-technical summaries of the results and lessons learned in decentralized bargaining strategies and practices in the 8 countries.
  • 8 national workshops with social partners
  • Final Conference in Brussels

Project consortium

The research partners in the consortium are University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands, coordinator), ADAPT (Italy), Institute for social and economic research, IRES (France), University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain), University College Dublin, UCD (Ireland),  SGH Warsaw School of Economics (Poland), Lund University (Sweden).CODEBAR cooperates in its dissemination activities with 15 social partner organisations in the 8 countries and at EU-level (a.o. industriAll, European Trade Union Institute, FNV, AWVN).



AIAS-HSI, University of Amsterdam

Dr. F.H. (Frank) Tros

Coordination and research

Dr N. (Niels) Jansen


Duration Apri 2020 - Sept 2022
Co-finance European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Contractnumber VS/2020/0111
Budget € 390,493
Partners AIAS-HSI, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands (coordinator)
  ADAPT, Italy -
  Institute for social and economic research (IRES), France -
  University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany -
  Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain -
  University College Dublin, Ireland -
  SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Poland -
  Lund University, Sweden -

Disclaimer excluding Commission responsibility

This communication related to the action CODEBAR is made by the beneficiaries and its reports reflects only the authors’ views. The Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Logo European Commission