Conference on tripartism

EU Presidency Conference on Tripartism in an enlarged European Union

Co-organised by the Danish Ministry of Employment and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions

Hotel Comwell, Elsinore, Denmark
29-30 October 2002

See also conference information from the Danish Ministry of Employment.

Speech abstract - Lena Skiöld, the WLE Project
Co-ordinator of projects and comprehensive network programmes and head of Information, Sweden

Social dialogue in the candidate countries: The experience of the Work Life and EU Enlargement Project

Social dialogue is a vital part of the way the European Union works. Therefore, the development of social dialogue in the candidate countries is of course a very important aspect of the enlargement. In this presentation I will focus on what we try to do to strengthen social dialogue in the candidate countries within the Work Life and EU Enlargement Project.

The aim of the Work Life and EU Enlargement project is to build and exchange knowledge on working life issues in the candidate countries in order to facilitate their accession to the European Union. The project is run by the Swedish National Labour Market Board on commission by the Swedish government, and in co-operation with the Swedish Work Environment Authority, the EU-level social partners, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, and the Italian work environment institute ISPESL.

If one wants to develop working life in a sustainable way, we believe that it is necessary to involve the social partners, and that is why we have done so from the start. The core of the WLE project is the running of practical projects in all the candidate countries, based on what the countries need and wish, and the social partners have always been invited to discuss what to do.

Usually they also take a very active part in the projects when they start running. One example is a project in Bulgaria, where local social partners and labour inspectors develop occupational health and safety management systems at four enterprises. Another example is Romania, where social dialogue will be the means to improve the work environment in the wood processing industry in the region of Sibiu.

The Work Life and EU Enlargement Project also has comprehensive network programmes, open to all candidate countries and dealing with issues of common concern. We have two especially focusing on social dialogue: Social dialogue and EMU, led by the European Foundation, and Social partnership, led by the ETUC, Unice, and CEEP. These programmes provide the opportunity for exchanging experiences with counterparts in other countries as well as for social partners from the same country to work more closely together.

Our point of departure is to work with the social partners in a very concrete way, because we think this is the best way to start. We meet a very varied reality of experiences, and adapt to that. We are not interested in imposing any kind of model, because our partners in the candidate countries will find their own - and hopefully our work together may contribute a little to that.

Questions for the workshop:

  • What impact is the accession likely to have on industrial relations in the candidate countries?
  • What impact is it likely to have on the European social dialogue?
  • How can social dialogue be used to increase economic and social cohesion across an enlarged Union?
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