National meeting in Austria on 4th March 2016
The national meeting in Austria took place on March 4th 2016. The project coordinator Volkshilfe Österreich invited representatives of Sozialwirtschaft Österreich and other major welfare organisations (BAG). As a basis for discussion a briefing paper was sent to all participants in advance.
A brief overview of recent developments and processes of the two previous projects PESSIS I and PESSIS II was given before the participants entered into discussion about the pros and cons of social dialogue on the European level and a realistic assessment of influencing policy at EU level. The question of a reasonable and resource-efficient process for Austrian employers’ organisations was raised during this discussion. Besides structural questions such as stronger integration of other Austrian employers social services organisations into the process, the options of a sectoral or a cross-sectoral dialogue was intensely discussed as well.
Further insight into the political and advocacy processes at European level was given by EASPD president Franz Wolfmayr. The good cooperation of European umbrella organisations and networks on European level was emphasised. As examples the positioning of the sector on the EU level during the public procurement directive was mentioned. Already installed, regular meetings (once or twice a year) facilitated the coordination. The European Semester has been named as another possibility to table sector-relevant topics. Regarding the social issues of the Semester process it was possible to intervene and steer in 12 member states by training the national members on these topics.
The participants agreed to discuss both a possible joint position on relevant issues for national employer organisations in their respective internal bodies as well as further possibilities for Sozialwirtschaft Österreich, together with other employer organisations, to contribute to the European Social Dialogue. The importance of building structures and capacities on the European level parallel to structures on national level has been emphasised by all participants.