Speech at the event "Social Dialogue as an important pillar of economic sustainability and the resilience of economies in Europe"

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to thank the German Presidency for organising this event and for having invited the European Economic and Social Committee to present our findings and recommendations on today's topic. 

We were very happy to work on an opinion at the request of the Presidency, on a key issue: the importance of social dialogue for economic sustainability and the resilience of economies in Europe. This topic is very important to us, given our role and composition: the EESC includes members representing both the business world and the workers of the 27 EU Member States, who continue to be active in their countries and know very well the reality on the ground. 

Our Committee is a consultative EU body. It gives representatives of organized civil society, including social partners, a formal platform to express their points of view at European level. The EESC delivers opinions on various topics, as foreseen in the Treaty, and at the request of the  European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council, or, as in this case, from the rotating EU Presidency. 

To come back to our today's topic: 
Various ILO conventions have long acknowledged the role of social dialogue at enterprise, sectoral and national level. In 1992, social dialogue was also recognised at EU level, as an inalienable component of the European social model. The social partners' indications were taken on board to establish the European inter-professional social dialogue as we know it today.

The promotion of social dialogue is a common objective of the EU and the Member States, according to various EU Treaty articles. 

The EU's roadmap for progress in the social policy domain, the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), acknowledges the right of social partners to be consulted on the design and implementation of economic, employment and social policies according to national practices. Their right to information and financial support for their activities is also mentioned. The forthcoming Action Plan to implement the EPSR will also explore ways of strengthening social dialogue and collective bargaining.

But why is social dialogue so important and what are the benefits that it can bring to societies?

First of all, social dialogue contributes to the stability of our societies. Any policies and reforms are more likely to be accepted and well implemented when they are built on negotiation and consensus of the parties concerned. Through social dialogue, workers can protect and promote their interests, while employers can enhance the success and performance of their enterprise. 

In this way, social dialogue contributes to shaping policies that improve living standards and working conditions, thus bringing social peace.

A well-established social dialogue is also an essential element to help overcoming a crisis more timely and effectively. And this is of a particular importance now, when we face such a terrible recession and economic and social hardship caused by COVID-19. Every country will need to put in place new measures and reforms to recover and become more resilient – Social Partners involvement will be indispensable in order to find appropriate and effective solutions. 

Experience has shown that the adoption of rapid and effective tripartite responses were influenced by the following elements: a strong social dialogue in place, social partners having been promptly and effectively engaged and a supportive government. This has helped to address both the immediate consequences of the crisis and longer-term recovery planning.

Last not least, social dialogue can serve as instrument to reinforce democracy by promoting human rights and sustainable development.

The UN 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals recognise the role of social dialogue to reinforce democratic institutions and facilitate the transition towards a greener and more sustainable economy. Indeed, thanks to social dialogue, we can develop a common understanding of existing challenges and on how to address them. However, to do so, the scope of negotiations has to be broadened and requires new partnerships and new strategies. 

One of the major challenge that social dialogue has to face now is to adapt to an evolving environment. Globalisation, transnational production processes and digitalisation have changed the way we live, learn and work. This requires an adaptation of existing processes to address shortcomings, and a common coordinated approach by the EU. 

I will now leave the floor to my colleagues who will present to you more detailed recommendations on how to improve the potential of social dialogue.

Thank you again for choosing this important topic for the opinion and the event. I look forward to following the rest of the event.


Speech - Social Dialogue as an important pillar of economic sustainability and the resilience of economies in Europe

Work organisation