The ETUCLEX is the human rights, legal and strategic litigation network of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its affiliates. It is made up of the ETUC Legal Team, the standing Committee on Labour and Internal Market Legislation, the Fundamental Rights and Litigation Advisory Group as well as the NETLEX Trade Union Legal Experts Network.

The ETUC capacity to provide legal and human rights expertise and support to its affiliates has developed over the years and gained in recognition and added value for the trade union movement in Europe. The ETUC also has a long-standing track record of intervening jointly with or in support of its affiliates in (quasi- or extra-) judicial procedures and processes in different fora (ILO, Council of Europe and EU) in a wide range of areas such as trade union rights, austerity measures, dismissal protection, occupational safety and health, privacy and data protection – and often so with a successful outcome.

The ETUCLEX aims to gather the collective legal and human rights expertise already present within the European trade union movement. In this sense, ETUC affiliates and their legal experts may play an active role within the ETUCLEX both as contributors and beneficiaries when it comes to dissemination of information, sharing of good practices, lessons learnt and legal advice. Affiliates may engage with the ETUCLEX e.g. through the early identification of and communication on important pending cases, analysis and follow-up of cases and important legal developments, outreach to relevant legal experts in the networks and/or participation in ad hoc taskforces or thematic discussions.


Objectives of the ETUCLEX

  • to enhance and to give more visibility to the ETUC work in the field of legal and human rights expertise, including through exchange of information and access to existing legal expertise (including a dedicated ETUCLEX website – see below);
  • to provide legal advice and expertise input to the ETUC affiliates, where possible, relevant and requested;
  • to consolidate the legal and human rights expertise, competence and capacity of the ETUC and its affiliates as regards their legal and litigation activities, to help making the case for workers and trade unions as key actors in (social) law making and the defence of social justice; to allow for a more strategic use of European and international law and jurisprudence to promote and defend trade union and workers’ rights;
  • to foster a coordinated strategic litigation approach amongst the ETUC and its affiliates, to improve access to justice and litigation strategies, with the view to influencing European and international case law as well as to improve access to collective redress for workers and trade unions in relevant fora;
  • to provide where possible support for litigation strategies at international, European and national levels to affiliates engaged in litigation with the aim to defend and advance trade union and labour rights standards;
  • to enhance, where relevant and necessary, the ETUC presence and intervention in different fields and fora, including courts and legal bodies, primarily at European level (EU and Council of Europe) but also at international level if needed (UN, ILO);
  • to support and stimulate capacity building and training opportunities for legal experts of the ETUC affiliates.

The ETUC in a nutshell

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