European sectoral social dialogue is a social dialogue taking place at branch level between the European trade union and employer organisations of a specific sector of the economy. The main advantage of the EU sectoral social dialogue is its ability to address specific aspects of sectoral concern and to provide a proper forum for discussion with the actors on the ground of many issues linked to employment, working conditions, vocational training, industrial change, the knowledge society, demographic patterns, enlargement and globalisation. The Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets – available in English and French – provide an overview on the actors and the outcomes in the different sectors.
The European-level sectoral social dialogue is now a well-established process, since its 30-year-old formal and informal structures were reformed on the basis of the European Commission Decision in May 1998. This Decision constitutes the foundation for sectoral social dialogue committees promoting dialogue between the social partners in sectors at European level.
There are currently some 40 sectoral social dialogue committees, which have produced a wide range of joint texts and agreements. A characteristic of the sectoral social dialogue at European level is the diversity of tools used to formalise commitments made by the social partners. The list includes opinions and common positions, declarations, guidelines and codes of conduct, charters, and also framework agreements.
In 2010, the EU Commission published a staff working document where it took stock of the main achievements of the European sectoral social dialogue and reviewed the functioning of the European sectoral social dialogue committees.