European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change
The Commission is responsible for promoting and supporting European social dialogue. In this Communication, it fleshes out its views on the future of social dialogue as a driving force for good governance of the European Union (EU) and for economic and social reform.
Communication from the Commission of 26 June 2002 - European social dialogue, a force for innovation and change [COM(2002) 341 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission presents a set of guidelines aimed at strengthening the social dialogue, in other words the social partners’ contribution to the work of the public institutions, in order to improve public governance and economic and social reform within the European Union (EU).
Developing the social dialogue within the EU
First, the Commission wishes to increase the consultation of the social partners in the drafting of European legislation. Consulting the social partners is compulsory in the areas of employment and social policy but optional concerning sectoral issues and the transposition of European legislation at national level.
The Commission is keen to extend this consultation to all legislative initiatives having social repercussions. It will also improve the procedures and rules for consultation.
In addition, the effectiveness of the social dialogue is linked to the representativeness of the social partners at European level. The Commission therefore encourages co-operation between national organisations and the improvement of their internal governance.
The social partners are also encouraged to broaden and enhance the social dialogue by concluding more agreements to be integrated into European law and by developing the processes for sectoral and intersectoral dialogue.
The Commission wishes to raise the profile of the results of European social dialogue. For example, it will organise meetings at EU level and within the Member States but will also distribute information by publishing regular reports and setting up a specific Internet site.
Finally, the EU supports the improvement of social dialogue at all levels of governance. The Commission therefore proposes, in particular, to improve training for the European social partners and representatives of national authorities, and to promote local social dialogue and corporate social responsibility.
Contribution to growth and employment
The actions of the social partners contribute to the attainment of the growth and employment goals set by the Lisbon Strategy. These goals are associated in particular with the management of change in the organisation of work, employee training, the promotion of equal opportunities and active ageing policies.
In this context, the Commission will analyse and compare the quality of industrial relations in the various Member States. It also proposes that the social partners should be assisted by Member States and by European financing in the introduction of policies associated with the Lisbon Strategy.
This Communication also proposes to set up a Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment, bringing together the troika of Heads of State or Government, the Commission President and a restricted delegation of social partners.
Countries committed to the EU enlargement process must structure and build the capacities of their organisations of social partners. In this respect, candidate countries may benefit from co-operation with European organisations and from European financing.
In addition, the processes of social dialogue must be encouraged in the context of EU foreign policy. The social partners of the EU and non-Member States may exchange experience and best practice, particularly concerning the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EU Partnership with Latin America, with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and with the United States and Japan.
Lastly, the European social partners can play a role as experts in the context of multilateral negotiations, particularly within international organisations.