Marking 30 years of European social dialogue

Val Duchesse outside Brussels, Belgium

It is 30 years since the launch of cooperation with European social partners at Val Duchesse which aimed to involve the European social partners in the internal market process.

Three decades later, European social dialogue is well established. European tripartite social dialogue, between European institutions and employer and worker representatives, takes place within the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment, while European bipartite social dialogue between the European employer and trade union organisations takes place within the cross-industry social dialogue committee and 43 sectoral social dialogue committees, the latter covering more than 75% of Europe's workforce.

To mark the 30th anniversary and to give a new impetus to social dialogue at EU level, the European Commission is holding a high level event on 5 March 2015 with leaders of European and national employer and worker organisations. With a view to strengthening social dialogue, the Commission will seek, together with the social partners, to ensure a more substantial involvement of social partners in EU governance and in EU policymaking as well as  to support the functioning of industrial relations and social dialogue in the Member States.

Social dialogue has been at the core of Eurofound’s work since its inception in 1975. It investigates, for instance, worker participation, collective agreements and industrial relations at company, national and EU level. It also examines how the interests of business and workers may best be reconciled. It looks at the extent to which industrial relations have adapted to the emergence of multinational organisations. It also takes a global perspective, comparing industrial relations systems and outcomes in economies outside the EU, such as the US and Japan.

  • Click here for further information from Eurofound in this area. 
  • Click here for information from the European Observatory of Working Life - EurWORK
  • Click here for a post by Eurofound research manager, Christian Welz, on ‘Val Duchesse revisited’, which recounts the background, circumstances and developments which resulted in the meetings held between representatives of European social partners at Val Duchesse, Belgium, in 1984 and 1985.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility commented ahead of the 5 March event: 'Social dialogue is a prerequisite to make our Social Market Economy work. Well-developed structures have been put in place at EU level, resulting in very concrete achievements. We want to build on what has been achieved over the past decades and give social dialogue a fresh impetus. We need a stronger involvement of social partners to develop adequate responses to the main challenges we are facing in Europe. I therefore look forward to the high level event on 5 March, which will bring together leading representatives from the Commission and social partners at European and national level.'

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