Joint meetings in Brussels: steps forward in the development of the European Social Dialogue

On 11th May and 4th October, national employers’ representatives from Austria,Belgium, France and Germany, trade unions representatives and all project partners seated together  in Brussels to develop and agree on a Joint Declaration and a Sectoral Agreement on a European social dialogue in social services. The two documents and the intentions expressed in will be discussed publicly next year in a dedicated hearing at the European Parliament (March 2017).

By then, the European report drawing together the mapping of social dialogue in the social services sectors from each of the 17 national reports published so far, will be updated with 5 additional country-studies: Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Feedback from the meeting of 4th October 2016

After an overview of the history and aims of the project from Thomas Bignal, EASPD, participants heard from researcher Jane Lethbridge about how consensus was reached to create a Hospital Sectoral Committee, social dialogue in the hospital sector, over a number of years via EU-funded projects. Updates on national discussions on European Social Dialogue were then given by the four countries present. The importance of the impulse for creating dialogue coming from national level was stressed.

The draft Common Declaration between Employers was one of the main items for discussion. The draft had been developed with input from the four countries and Trade Unions and aims to lay out the significance of the sector, challenges it experiences and recommendations for the EU level. The draft was well received, and the debate focused on ensuring clear, positive messages in the text. A few issues of importance were also added. The new version of the text would be approved at the next meeting.

The group then discussed aims of and preparations for the Hearing in the European Parliament. The plan is to organise it in late March 2017, date dependent on availability of a host MEP. The joint declaration would be presented, with employers giving their experiences on the different issues addressed within it. It would also be an opportunity to highlight the importance and size of the social services sector.  EPR is leading on organising the event and is working with EASPD.