On 27 June, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis together with Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, signed on behalf of the Commission a statement on a 'new start for social dialogue'.
The statement was co-signed by the European cross-industry social partners (ETUC, Busineseurope, UEPME, CEEP) and by the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The statement is part of the 'New Start for Social Dialogue' initiated by President Juncker at a high level conference on 5 March 2015 together with European, national and sectorial social partners and with the other EU institutions.
At that conference, social partners and the Commission agreed on
- the need for a more substantial involvement of the social partners in the European Semester,
- a stronger emphasis on capacity building of national social partners,
- a strengthened involvement of social partners in EU policy and law-making
- a clearer relation between social partners' agreements and the better regulation agenda.
The statement underlines the fundamental role of the European social dialogue as a significant component of EU employment and social policy making. It identifies actions to be undertaken by the signatories with the aim of further strengthening social dialogue at EU and national level.
The social partners for instance indicate that they will implement the actions agreed in their autonomous work programme 2015 – 2017 on improving capacity-building and implementation outcomes. The statement furthermore contains their commitment to continue to improve coordination between the various organisations at cross-industry and sectoral levels.
Role of the Council Presidency and the Commission
From the side of the Council Presidency, the statement refers to the recently adopted Council conclusions on "A new start for a strong social dialogue" which call on the Member States to take the necessary steps to, among other actions, closely involve the social partners in the design and implementation of relevant reforms and policies, in line with national practices.
Besides referring to the role of the Commission in line with the Treaty obligations, the statement underlines that the Commission will endeavour to involve social partners in policy- and law-making at Union level also on key initiatives included in its work programme that do not fall under the scope of Articles 153 and 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), but which may have significant implications for the social and employment situation.
Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said: "Strengthening social dialogue is a common endeavour between social partners and public authorities. Capacity-building activities as envisaged by the social partners can play a major contribution to reinforce their dialogue and its outcomes. Social partners have also a key role to play in addressing the key challenges our societies and labour markets are facing. This is why the Commission has been giving a prominent role to social partners in the discussions on the European pillar of social rights and the recently adopted skills agenda."