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The aim of this report is to add to the discussion on how Eurofound can contribute to supporting capacity building of social partners for effective social dialogue. The report includes a review by Eurofound aimed at identifying the capacity-building needs and initiatives of social partners in relation to national frameworks for autonomous collective bargaining, involvement in European social dialogue and the European Semester, and the development of membership and services for members. It also includes the results from stakeholder consultations and two exchange seminars held in 2019, along with a set of policy pointers for further discussion.

Key findings

National-level bipartite social dialogue and collective bargaining lie at the heart of national industrial relations systems and should be underpinned by an appropriately supportive legal framework while respecting the principle of subsidiarity and the autonomy of the social partners.

Structural gaps at national level identified in the research include lack of representativeness and mandate to negotiate, limited tripartism, sectoral collective bargaining and low collective bargaining coverage, lack of social partners’ autonomy and lack of trust between the social partners and governments.

Elements that would foster a more effective social dialogue at national level include legislative reforms to promote social dialogue and collective bargaining, a more supportive role by the state, increase in membership, capacity and mandate to negotiate, more human and financial resources.

Developing the skills and expertise of the two sides of industry in relation to specific skills (such as industrial relations, negotiation, research and analysis, policymaking, advocacy, and soft and digital skills) should be supported.

Social partners should be assisted in their efforts to increase their membership representativeness and capacity to negotiate and implement agreements.

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