During one of the panels of the conference “Promoting and Reinforcing the EU Social Dialogue” organised by the EU cross-industry social partners, Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President and General Secretary of BICA (BG), discussed the involvement of social partners in EU policy-making. She said:
“A clear success is the reinforced role of social partners to give input to Commission’s initiatives beyond the spectrum of their competences. The discussion with Vice-president Katainen on the Investment Plan for Europe, the exchanges with Vice-president Šefčovič on the Energy Union and the consultation on the Digital Single Market with Vice-president Ansip are perfect examples.
There are margins to improve these contributions. More cooperation should be established at the working level and we should make a difference between consultation and influence. A key word is ownership. If we talk about participation of Social Partners in the implementation of EU policies, this dialogue could be further empowered by making it more relevant and more in line with the reform of the EMU.”
Prior, in the opening high-level roundtable, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti called for the strengthening of the macroeconomic dialogue and of the tripartite social summit, as well as the increased involvement of social partners in the EU semester. She also commented on the capital importance of building capacity for a strong social dialogue at national and at EU level:
“For both tripartite and bipartite social dialogue, the key word for a strong social dialogue is capacity building. Weak social partners cannot influence and impact on the reforms process at EU and at national level. Weak social partners cannot have a strong mandate to negotiate agreements, leading to lack of implementation.
Capacity building also needs differentiation. When it comes to public services employers, there are for instance several distinctions to make: In public administration, especially at central level, there is pressing need to strengthen the distinction between the government and the employer functions of central administrations. In utilities, the autonomy from the political influence keep calling for further deepening. Finally, in some of the countries which have joined the EU since 2004, the words “Public services” and “Services of General Interest” remain strongly negatively perceived. For those reasons, capacity building is more than needed for social dialogue in public services.”