The EU social partners engaged in the process of drafting a joint declaration for the relaunch of the social dialogue. This declaration was intended as a follow-up of the 5 March 2015 conference on the relaunch of social dialogue, an initiative of the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. The social partners engaged in a lengthy but focused process within the framework of two new thematic working groups dealing with policy making, capacity building, better regulation and macroeconomic governance. Within these working groups, the EU cross-industry social partners, with the support from representatives from the sectoral federations, prepared joint statements and commitments for themselves, the European Commission and Member States. This process was intended since the beginning as a tripartite process, with the support of both the European Commission and Council.

Acknowledging that there is no blueprint on the issue, social dialogue processes vary from one Member State to another, reflecting the countries’ different backgrounds and economic and political situations. While this diversity must be respected, the role of social partners should be promoted. A precondition for a successful value-adding social dialogue is to be result-oriented. Social partners are uniquely placed to address work-related issues through the dialogue and negotiation process that characterises their relationship. They can also assess the direct or indirect impact of EU policies on employment and social affairs. Thanks to their knowledge and experience of the employment and social situation, their legitimacy, representativeness, mandate and capacity to negotiate, social partners are essential actors to improve governance and policy-making. They must be clearly distinguished from other organisations representing civil society.

This declaration is an important step of an ongoing process, addressing certain aspects of social dialogue and aiming to improve:

  • the functioning and effectiveness of social dialogue and the capacity-building of social partners at national level;
  • the involvement of social partners in EU policy-making;
  • the involvement of social partners in the European economic governance / Semester and in assessing, designing, agreeing and implementing relevant reforms/policies.

As soon as the declaration is finalised, the European social partners will further promote this declaration to the European Commission and the Council, notably through the EPSCO Council and the Tripartite Social Summit in March, to further reinforce the visibility of this joint document and engage our institutional partners in this process.

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