What Implications for the ‘European Social Model’?
Edited by Marie-Ange Moreau
Chapter 17: The Future of European Social Dialogue
Christophe Vigneau To discuss industrial relations within the EU, scholars generally use the expression ‘social dialogue’. This formula covers a wide range of rules and practices occurring at European level. Social dialogue has a long tradition in European integration and its role has been growing over the years. At the outset, social dialogue found an institutionalized agora with the European Economic and Social Committee. It also developed at sectoral level in the 1960s with the establishment of joint committees. At cross industry level, in the 1970s, the Standing Committee on Employment was set up for the Commission, the Council and the social partners to discuss employment. During the 1980s and under the auspices of the Commission, the informal meetings of Val Duchesse developed. In 1986, the European Single Act introduced a provision in the Treaty which formally obliges the Commission to promote social dialogue. Within this new framework, the Commission plays a decisive role, encouraging the so-called social partners to negotiate and conclude agreements. However, in the late 1980s and 1990s social dialogue remained relatively weak in terms of results, and marginal in determining European social policy. A new and fundamental impetus is given to social dialogue by the Social Protocol attached to the Maastricht Treaty.1 From 1992 onwards, social partners have been given a primary role in defining European social policy making. Prior to any proposal regarding social policy, the Commission must consult the social partners both on the opportunity and the content of a European instrument. Further to...
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