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Sectoral social dialogue - Graphical industry

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations

UNI Europa Graphical & Packaging

Intergraf – European Federation for Print and Digital Communication

The social dialogue committee for this sector was created in 2013.

It covers printing and related service activities defined by NACE (Rev. 2) code 18.1, including:

  • printing of newspapers,
  • other printing, such as books, periodicals, business forms, greeting cards and identification documents, on media such as paper, plastics and metal,
  • pre-press and pre-media services,
  • binding and related services.

The most prominent printing techniques are offset, gravure, screen or flexographic printing. More recently, printing companies have made a significant move towards integrating digital printing into their activities, opening their market to new features such as personalisation of print, or short run printing or "on demand" printing or web to print services.

In recent years printing companies have also enlarged their scope of activities to the integration of value added services, such as database management for clients and the production of e-documents or websites.

In the EU, the graphical sector employs around 630,000 people in some 118,000 companies. The sector is highly fragmented: more than 90% of the industrial structure is composed by SMEs employing less than 20 workers. Less than 1% of companies have more than 250 staff.

Evolutions impacting the industry include:

  • rise of the internet as source of information and advertising;
  • the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and e-readers;
  • the drop in the number of people reading newspapers and magazines;
  • fierce global competition; and
  • the continued modest economic growth in the EU.

As a consequence, the sector continues to face significant overcapacity, a drop in prices and pressure to reduce production costs. Social partners expect (further) restructuring of the sector in order to preserve long-term sustainability.

Focus areas

The committee is currently focusing on:

  • the technological, social and economic situation and trends of the sector at EU level,
  • follow-up of the 2010 joint EU project on “Best practices in socially responsible restructuring of printing companies”,
  • skills,
  • state aid and unfair competition,
  • environmental sustainability.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.

Recent achievements

  • Joint statement on the European Timber Regulation (2015)
  • Joint projects on socially responsible restructuring (report and development of a toolkit) (2009-2010), on the promotion of the use of the toolkit at company level (2011-2012) and on "Future skills in the graphical industry: Identifying and promoting best practice in Europe" (2013-2014).