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LABREF is a tool to monitor labour market reforms in the European Union. It provides a comprehensive set of data on the reform process undertaken in Member States during the past decade in different policy fields with a direct impact on labour market performance. It contains valuable information on the number, type and design of reforms, which can easily be compared across countries.

The LABREF database is a joint project managed by the European Commission DG ECFIN and the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) to systematically record factual information on policy measures affecting the labour market institutions and thus likely to have an impact on labour market performance. The aim of the project, started in December 2005, is to support the work carried out in the framework of the EU economic policy coordination process and to improve the understanding of labour market institutions as part of the general economic surveillance of Member States.

The LABREF database is organised around nine broad policy areas:

  • labour taxation,
  • unemployment,
  • welfare-related benefits,
  • active labour market programmes,
  • job protection,
  • disability and early retirement schemes,
  • wage bargaining,
  • working time organisation,
  • immigration and mobility.

Main uses of LABREF

  • ex-post description of enacted reforms, including the interlinkages across reform areas and over time;
  • background information for multi-annual assessment of reform strategies;
  • feeding into:
    • EPC multilateral surveillance exercises and thematic reviews;
    • ECFIN analytical reports and country studies, as well as briefings, speeches and inputs to the Commission's work in general;
  • assistance in assessments and recommendations in economic policy coordination processes, notably the Europe 2020 Strategy

>> Access the LABREF database

Information available

LABREF covers the 28 EU Member States and the years 2000-2013 (from 2003 for Bulgaria and Romania, and from 2012 for Croatia). The year 2014 is currently in the process of being updated.

User guide

Coverage and structure of LABREFpdf(51 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 


Graph 1: Average number of labour market measures by policy domain, EU28

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Graph 2: Average number of labour market measures by domain

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Graph 3: Number and composition of labour market measures by domain, EU28

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Note: Information for Romania and Bulgaria starts in 2003, while information for Croatia starts in 2012

Papers and publications - suggested citation

When quoting, please include the link to LABREF and the following reference:

"European Commission, Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs and Economic Policy Committee LABREF database"

We are pleased to establish links to published and unpublished works that make use of the LABREF database. To avail you of this facility please send your work with the relevant references via the contact mailbox of the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs.