Trade unions and employers today agreed measures designed to end the gridlock in European social dialogue and better address joint challenges like climate change and digitalisation.

The appointment of a social dialogue envoy within the European Commission is part of the plans to increase cooperation set out in the declaration agreed at the Val Duchesse summit today.

The envoy will support social dialogue at national and European level, as well as responding to breakdowns in social dialogue raised jointly by the social partners through a new alert system.

The new role is being created in an effort to return to the vision for European social dialogue set out by Jacques Delors at the first Val Duchesse social summit that took place on this day in 1985.

Pact for Social Dialogue

In June last year, three European employers’ organisations signed a social dialogue work programme with the ETUC which included a commitment to negotiate a legally binding agreement on telework to be implemented in the form of a directive.

However, after negotiations lasting more than a year, two of the three employers’ organisations refused to put forward any text.

The summit called by Jacques Delors in 1985 marked the end of similar difficulties in social dialogue and began a process which resulted in the first joint union-employer positions, including on new technologies.

Unions and employers have agreed today to undertake a series of meetings to agree what further measures are needed to strengthen social dialogue, with a view to concluding a Pact for Social Dialogue in early 2025.

Speaking at today’s summit, ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“Our return to Val Duchesse today for another social summit could not be more timely. This Summit gives to all of us the opportunity to renew our joint commitment to social dialogue: we must defend and reinforce social dialogue and collective bargaining as fundamental pillars of the European Social Model.

“This Summit comes also after the failure of the social dialogue negotiations on telework and the right to disconnect, for which it is now important that the Commission take up the initiative and make a proposal for a Directive.

“Social dialogue that does not deliver cannot prevent progress. And, social dialogue that does not deliver cannot become the norm.

“The climate and digital transitions are having a profound impact on the world of work. We need social dialogue and collective bargaining at all levels to be supported to deliver results to improve working conditions and ensure social progress.

The joint commitment to quality jobs as the way to achieve competitiveness is critically important as is the commitment to the full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

“We need to return to the vision of a social Europe that Jacques Delors set out in Val Duchesse 39 years ago today. This can and must be the moment we start to get European social dialogue back on track. Our common engagement is of paramount importance in this endeavour.”

Full speech: EN

Tripartite Declaration for a Thriving European Social Dialogue: EN