A list of Frequently Asked Questions on the European Social Dialogue
The involvement of the social partners at the European level is organised around three different types of activities:
tripartite consultation, which comprises the exchanges between the social partners and the European public authorities;
consultation of the social partners, which covers the activities of the consultative committees and official consultations in the spirit of Article 153 TFEU (Treaty on the functioning of the European Union);
the European social dialogue as such, which is the name given to the bipartite work of the social partners, whether or not it stems from the official consultations of the Commission based on Articles 154 and 155 TFEU.
The European social partners are the two sides of industry: labour and management.
For European workers, at intersectoral level the representative body is the ETUC(European Trade Union Confederation), and for the employers’ side BusinessEurope, UEAPME (European Association of craft, small and medium-sized enterprises) and CEEP (European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest).
The European sectoral social dialogue takes place at branch level between the European trade union and employer organisations of a specific sector of the economy.
The sectoral social dialogue takes place in the branches and for the branches, while the interprofessional social dialogue includes all branches.
Framework agreements are negotiated between the social partners at European level, and are contractually binding on the signatory parties and their members.
They are transposed either by a European Directive – in which case the responsibility for implementation lies with the Member States in the first instance – or by the social partners at national level, who have an obligation for such transposition, while the signatory parties have an obligation to influence their members.
Originally, the term 'voluntary framework agreements' was used. But given that the term 'voluntary' led to confusion on the actual rights and obligations linked to it the term was changed to “autonomous framework agreements”.
Interprofessional framework agreements can be negotiated by the social partners at European level, namely the ETUC and BusinessEurope, UEAPME and CEEP. Sectoral framework agreements can be negotiated by the social partners of the respective branch when they are recognised in the sectoral social dialogue committees.
The outcomes are presented in this section.