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European Social Dialogue

Social dialogue is one of the core competences and activities of social partners at both EU and national levels. Since a number of years now, the EU social partners organise discussions gathering a number of national social partners with a view to exchange information and learn from each other on common challenges they face in terms of representativeness, collective bargaining frameworks, national social dialogue outcomes, implementation and follow-up of EU social dialogue instruments, capacity building, etc. This is done with the practical organisation of cluster seminars, which proved to be extremely useful and efficient for social partners, who wish to continue to organise this type of activity.

Improving the link between the EU and national social dialogues is essential. And improving coordination and understanding of recent developments is key in that respect. For example, the EU social partners wish be better involved in the EU economic governance process. This is reflected in the organisation of dedicated seminars on this particular topic as well.

Developing closer contacts with social partners in candidate countries, as well as supporting their better understanding of the EU social dialogue remains an important part of the Integrated Projects. This is why candidate countries are regularly invited to attend EU social dialogue discussions and project activities, whenever possible. This vision is also concretely activated through a dedicated event for candidate countries.

The EU social dialogue must also address upcoming trends and changes in the labour markets. This is why in the framework of this projects cycle, they will address the issue of digitalisation with a fact-finding seminar.

The EU social partners also wish to organise a conference to prepare for their internal reporting on the Framework of Actions on Youth Employment.

Lastly, they plan for ad-hoc actions that could be undertaken in the coming years if the EU social partners see the need for it, or at the request of some national social partner organisations.

All the above-mentioned activities have strong links with the objectives and priorities of the 2015-2017 Autonomous Work Programme.

Seminar on “Reinforcing the European social dialogue and industrial relations”, 8-9 November 2017, Lisbon, Portugal
For social partners of:
Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain
Seminar on “Reinforcing the European social dialogue and industrial relations”, 30-31 January 2018, Dublin, Ireland
For social partners of: Austria, Croatia, Ireland and Poland
Seminar on “Reinforcing the European social dialogue and industrial relations”, 20-21 September 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia
For social partners of:
France, Romania, Slovakia and The Netherlands
Seminar “Promoting and reinforcing social dialogue”, 4-5 October 2018, Podgorica, Montenegro
For candidate countries: Albania, Fyrom, Montenegro and Serbia
Seminar on social partners’ involvement in the european economic governance process and the semester, 15 May 2017, Brussels, Belgium
Seminar on social partners’ involvement in the european economic governance process and the semester, 14 March 2018, Brussels, Belgium
Conference “Promoting and reinforcing the EU social dialogue”, 6 February 2019, Brussels, Belgium
Joint conference on the Framework of Actions on Youth Employment Achievements and Challenges Ahead, 20 June 2017, Brussels, Belgium
Ad-hoc employers seminar on collective bargaining and competitiveness, 17-18 September 2018, Roma, Italy
Fact-finding seminar on Digitalisation, 14 February 2017, Berlin, Germany

European Social Fund: supporting social dialogue at national, regional and local levels

It is clear that in order to be able to develop their role as social partners and enhance social dialogue, some national social partner organisations need financial support.

EU and national social partners have underlined these concerns in the ESF Committee as well as in several instances such as the previous capacity-building activities of the EU social partners as part of integrated projects, notably including a seminar in Riga in March 2015. More recently this has been in the thematic group discussions as part of the follow-up to the 5 March conference on “a new start for social dialogue”. The European social partners also held a seminar on the ESF and capacity building

A better use of the European Social Fund can be essential to support the existence of well-structured bipartite social dialogue at all appropriate levels in the EU Member States, especially at local and regional levels. It can also play an important role to achieve better implementation of social dialogue outcomes.

This project will have the following main goals:

  1. To build on the implementation of the partnership principle and the role of social partners in the delivery and monitoring of ESF activities by mapping the ESF support to capacity-building of social partners. There will be a particular focus on convergence[1] and transition[2] regions to identify where the ESF plays a positive role and where there are unmet needs of social partner organisations;
  2. To explore the extent to which capacity building facilitates, or the contribution that it could make in the future to, social dialogue and the implementation of social dialogue instruments in convergence and transition regions;
  3. To gather and exchange information on practical examples of projects funded by the ESF at national, regional, and local levels.

To help partners to carry out this activities, an expert will be subcontracted and will be selected on a joint basis following a call for tender.


  1. Fact finding phase through a jointly agreed survey and phone interviews (this activity will be undertaken by the subcontracted expert).
  2. Two joint cluster seminars bringing together social partner representatives from the national and/or regional levels in the countries with convergence/transition regions. Regional and national managing authorities will also be invited.
Seminar 1 “The role of the ESF in capacity building of social partners” 14-15 September 2017, Prague, Czech Republic
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Spain
  • Agenda
  • List of participants
Seminar 2 “The role of the ESF in capacity building of social partners” 4-5 December 2017, Rome, Italy
Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia
  • Agenda
  • List of participants
Conference “The role of the ESF in capacity building of social partners”
9 March 2018 – Brussels, Belgium
all target and resource countries


Promoting social partnership in employee training

Given the growing importance of knowledge, skills and competencies in the economy and in society, it is important to ensure that training policies are efficient. Around 66% of enterprises already invest in some form of training for their employees and it is important to look at ways to build on the idea that training is a productive investment for enterprises and workers. At the same time, employees must be incentivised to update and upgrade their skills, including low-skilled workers.

Employers and trade unions are best placed to set up efficient strategies on skills and qualifications development through social dialogue and collective bargaining, in line with national, sectoral or company practices. This project will focus on fostering the social partnership approach for skills development at all levels, with a particular focus on the enterprise level. In doing so it will take into account the 2002 Framework of Actions on life-long learning.

We will look into different ways in which employee training is regulated/organised in different countries, including identifying barriers which may discourage companies from offering training (during or outside working hours). The aim will also be to show that training should be understood broadly (formal courses, but also on-the job training, mentoring, knowledge, skills and competence development for innovation, transversal skills, etc.). The role of social partners is essential to align training content with productivity gains and employee career development, as well as ensuring adequate access and availability of training opportunities on a cost-sharing basis. We may also try to identify principles on how to ensure the quality (in terms of learning outcomes and relevance), effectiveness and efficiency of training investment for employers and employees on the basis of good practice (and perhaps also bad practice). As part of this, employee motivation, willingness, and awareness of training provision and benefits will be looked at. We may also try to gather information and examples on the extent of the recognition of non-formal and in-formal learning.

To help partners to carry out this activities, an expert will be subcontracted and will be selected on a joint basis following a call for tender.


  1. Three national joint cluster seminars with joint national workshops to identify existing models of organising, governing and financing training schemes, as well as to promote capacity building of social partners on CVET with a focus on fostering learning between countries with well-developed schemes and those where social partnership could be improved. National cluster seminars could also include company visits.
  2. Produce a report using the three cluster seminars to identify strengths and weaknesses of the different systems. This will aim to identify a number of practices that we want to look at in more detail. (Need to be clear on expectations and objectives, also on number of practices). Current European level initiatives will also be identified.
  3. One joint conference at the end of the project to discuss main findings, disseminate report, and discuss possible following steps.
Employee training cluster seminar 1 – 5-6 July 2017, Vienna, Austria
– Austria
– Netherlands
– Czech Republic
– Spain
  • Agenda
  • List of participants
Employee training cluster seminar 2 – 28-29 November, Warsaw, Poland
– Denmark
– Germany
– Poland
– Portugal
  • Agenda
  • List of participants
Employee training cluster seminar 3 – 17-18 April,2018, Stockholm, Sweden
– Sweden
– Ireland
– France
– Estonia
  • Agenda
  • List of participants
Employee training final conference – 19 June 2018 – Brussels, Belgium
all target and resource countries