European social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint actions involving organisations representing the two sides of industry (employers and workers). It takes two main forms:
Financial support is given to transnational projects carried out by social partners and others active in the field of industrial relations through the social dialogue budget lines. It is also provided through the European Social Fund (ESF) for capacity-building of social partner organisations at national level.
The European Commission consults the social partners on the possible direction of an initiative, in a first stage, and on the content of an initiative, in a second stage.
For an organisation to be recognised as a partner in European social dialogue, it must be organised at the EU level and capable of taking part in consultations and negotiating agreements.
As far as possible, organisations should be representative of all EU Member States, while their national members must be recognised as social partners in the respective countries.
Since 2006, representativeness studies have been carried by the EU agency in charge of research on living and working conditions, Eurofound.