EU social dialogue

The European social dialogue is a fundamental element of the European social model that is formally recognised by the EC Treaty (Articles 154 and 155). It encompasses the discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint actions undertaken by the social partner organisations representing the two sides of industry (workers and employers). In particular, at Community level, workers are represented by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and European employers are represented by three different organisations: the Confederation of European Business (BusinessEurope, formerly UNICE), the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) and, following a cooperation agreement signed in 1998, the European Association of Craft Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

Briefly, the involvement of the social partners at the European level can be distinguished in three different types of activities: 1) tripartite consultation, which takes place between the social partner organisations and the European public authorities; 2) consultation of the social partners, in the spirit of Article 154 of the Treaty and 3) the European social dialogue, which is the name given to the bipartite work of the social partners, whether or not it stems from the official consultations of the Commission based on Articles 153 and 154 of the Treaty.

Through this section of the Resource Centre, the ETUC aims to provide information and practical assistance to social partner representatives (and especially trade union organisations) as well as practitioners in industrial relations on policy and legislative developments on European social dialogue.

  • Joint EU cross-industry Social Dialogue work 

    The European social partners, namely the ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE-UEAPME and the CEEP, have concluded a number of agreements that have been ratified by the Council of Ministers, which are now part of European legislation. They have also concluded some 60 joint texts (including framework of actions, joint analyses, declarations, etc.). Follow the links to read more.

  • ETUC positions

    Here you will find position papers and press releases from the ETUC on the subject of the social dialogue.

  • Sectoral Social Dialogue

    Social dialogue also takes place in different industrial sectors, coordinated on the trade union side by the European Industry Federations. This is an important tool for tackling industry-specific questions at a European level. To date, almost 300 joint texts have been adopted, including joint opinions and agreements, guidelines and codes of conduct. Follow the links to find out more.