Competitiveness boards or wage boards?

The European Commission today published a recommendation to establish ‘National Competitiveness Boards’ within the Euro area.


  • Questions the need for, and focus of, the proposed ‘Competitiveness Boards’;
  • Notes the recommendation’s recognition that these Boards “should not affect the right of workers and employers… to negotiate and conclude collective agreements”;
  • Is concerned that the recommendation puts far too much emphasis on wages and labour costs (mentioning them specifically several times) without mentioning other factors which are equally important for competitiveness such as education and training, public infrastructure, research and development, quality products and services etc;
  • Acknowledges the step back from the Five Presidents’ Report recommendation to set up “Competitiveness Authorities” with a mandate to “assess whether wages are evolving in line with productivity and compare with developments” elsewhere, and to require trade unions and employers to “use the opinions of the Authorities as guidance during wage setting negotiations”;
  • Will watch out for future ‘mission creep’ of these Boards, especially as the recommendation states “the Commission is invited to prepare a progress report… including whether the adoption of binding provisions appears necessary”.

“The Euro area is suffering from a lack of investment and a lack of internal demand” said Veronica Nilsson, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC, “Setting up Competitiveness Boards that focus mainly on wages will not help. There is a stronger case to set up ‘Social Progress Boards’ to make recommendations on tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality. My fear is that the long-term aim is to influence wage settlements more strongly, and that’s a no-no for trade unions.”


For more information see

Council Recommendation on the establishment of National Competitiveness Boards within the Euro Area:

Press release