European social dialogue
The ETUC is the only social partner representing workers at European level. The Treaty of Maastricht (1992) guarantees this formal status. Together with the employers, it is involved in consultation in areas such as employment, social affairs, macroeconomic, industrial and regional policies.
European social dialogue exists at the heart of European Union governance. It enables the European social partners to contribute significantly to defining European social standards. Enshrined in the European treaties, it is a fundamental element of the European social model.
European social dialogue brings together around the table representatives from the trade union and employer organisations’ creates a framework for the discussions, negotiations and joint actions undertaken by the European social partners.
Dialogue between the European social partners exists at both cross-sectoral and sectoral level. The participants in the cross-sectoral dialogue, the ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE (private sector employers)/UEAPME (small and medium businesses), and CEEP (public employers), have concluded a number of framework agreements: the parental leave (1996) and revised in 2009, the part-time work (1997) and the fixed-term contracts (1999). Those agreements have been ratified by the Council of Ministers and are now part of European legislation:
Finally, the signing of framework of actions for the lifelong development of competencies and qualifications (2002) and framework of actions on gender equality (2005) should be emphasised.
In May 2009 the European social partners adopted their third Multiannual Work Programme, to run until 2010, identifying areas of joint action.
In March 2012 the European social partners presented their forth Work Programme, to run until 2014, addressing youth and employment, as two of the main activities.
Social dialogue also takes place in different industrial sectors, coordinated on the trade union side by the European Industry Federations. This is an important tool for tackling industry-specific questions at a European level. Sectorial social dialogue committees deal with, for example, training, working time and conditions, health and safety, sustainable development, and free movement of workers.
For more information please consult the Fact Sheet
Joint EU cross - industry Social dialogue work