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European Social Dialogue

In 2005, the European social dialogue celebrated its 20th year: a successful but difficult, steady and ambitious ascent towards the institutionalisation and autonomy of this unique process of introducing industrial relations at European level. As an integral part of the institutional community acquis, at the latest since the introduction of the agreement on social policy in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the European Social Dialogue is, at all levels and in its various forms, an important tool for reconciling economic performance and social progress.

Interprofessional European Social Dialogue

The involvement of the social partners at the European level is organised around three different types of activities:

  • The tripartite consultation comprises the exchanges between the social partners and the European public authorities.
  • The consultation of the social partners 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) - For a complete overview of all consultations so far launched by the European Commission click here.
  • The European social dialogue as such 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.


This section provides an overview of the outcomes of the Interprofessional European Social Dialogue, most notably the framework agreements, the frameworks of actions and the multi-annual work programmes.

Sectoral ESD

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.


Christophe Degryse
Senior Research Officer ETUI
Tel. 0032 (0)2 224 04 76