Nowadays, the world of work and employment relations is changing quickly under multiple pressures : globalisation, fast-moving information technologies, post-industrial economies, new organisational forms, and of course, European integration.

In Europe, the quality of jobs and social cohesion are both objectives and outcomes of the knowledge-based society promoted by the Lisbon Strategy. Understanding current changes in the world of work and employment, and being able to monitor and pilot them, is therefore central to the development of our societies.

At the same time, national labour markets, working conditions, labour policies, human resource management and labour law, all of which were traditionally defined within national boundaries, become more and more determined across borders. The people in charge of employment policies and work relations, both within and outside Europe now have to cope with European requirements and opportunities – EMU, European works councils, social dialogue, etc. – as well as with a broader cross-national processes – new conditions for competitiveness, multinational companies, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, etc. They need to understand how the European system interacts with diverse national systems and how those interactions determine employment and work conditions today. They need to be able to analyse and interpret international and cross-country phenomena affecting employment relations within countries, in order to be able to manage them.