Tag Archives: Labour relations

European Sectoral Dialogue

European Sectoral Dialogue

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Sectoral Dialogue


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social dialogue and employee participation

European Sectoral Dialogue

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998 on the establishment of Sectoral Dialogue Committees promoting the Dialogue between the social partners at European level (Text with EEA relevance).


Social dialogue is an essential element of the social model and European governance. Consultation with European social partners contributes to the development of European social policy and the definition of social standards.

Thus, pursuant to Article 152 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Union (EU):

  • recognises and promotes the role of the social partners at European level;
  • facilitates dialogue between the social partners, respecting their autonomy.

According to Article 154 of the TFEU, the Commission consults social partners before submitting legislative proposals in the area of social policy. This consultation aims at guiding EU action and, if the Commission considers it necessary, assessing the content of legislation.

Consultation with European social partners could lead to contractual relations, including agreements, according to the terms of Article 155 of the TFEU.

European sectoral dialogue is led by representatives of European employers and employees, grouped by economic sector of activity. It represents a level of discussion and negotiation that enables a better understanding of the issues facing each sector.

Sectoral dialogue committees

The social partners in an occupational sector may make a joint request to establish a sectoral dialogue committee. These committees shall be consulted on all Community developments which have social implications. They facilitate sectoral social dialogue.

Employers’ organisations and trade unions from the sector must meet certain criteria:

  • they shall relate to specific sectors or categories and be organised at European level;
  • they shall consist of organisations which are themselves a part of Member States’ social partner structures and have the capacity to negotiate agreements, and which are representative of several Member States;
  • they shall have adequate structures to participate in the work of the Committees.

Committees have been established in forty occupational sectors and cover the essential European economic activities (agriculture, fisheries, industry, trade, personal services and services to businesses, banks, postal services, transport, sport, events, audiovisual media, telecommunications, temporary employment, local and regional government, etc.).

Membership and operation

The sectoral dialogue committees meet at least once a year. They are made up of 64 members. They are generally chaired in turn by a trade union or employer representative or, at their request, by a representative of the Commission.

Each committee establishes a work programme in collaboration with the Commission.


The Commission promotes the development of sectoral social dialogue. Thus, the creation of sectoral social dialogue committees followed on from the 1998 Communication “Adapting and promoting the social dialogue at Community level”.

The 2002 Communication on “European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change” has improved the way dialogue structures operate and has made them more representative. In addition, in the 2004 Communication “Partnership for change in an enlarged Europe” the Commission encourages inter-sectoral cooperation and research into synergies at both national and European level.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 98/500/EC


OJ L 225 of 12.8.1998

Amending acts(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1792/2006


OJ L 362 of 20.12.2006

Related Acts

Commission staff working document of 22 July 2010 on the functioning and potential of European sectoral social dialogue [SEC(2010) 964 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission presents an assessment of sectoral social dialogue since 1998. This working document also proposes improvements relating to the scope and quality of the work done in this area.

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards common principles of flexicurity


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social protection

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 June 2007, entitled ‘Towards Common Principles of Flexicurity: More and better jobs through flexibility and security’ [COM(2007) 359 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Commission presents a set of guidelines as a framework for the Member States’ flexicurity strategies.

The principles of flexicurity contribute to the modernisation of the European social models.

Concept of flexicurity

To be effective, labour market modernisation strategies must take into account the needs of employees and employers alike. The concept of flexicurity is therefore a global approach which favours:

  • flexibility of employees, who must be able to adapt to labour market developments and achieve their professional transitions. Similarly, this approach must improve the flexibility of enterprises and work organisation in order to meet the needs of employers and to improve the balance between work and family life;
  • security for employees, who must be able to progress in their professional careers, develop their skills and be supported by social security systems when they are not working.

Flexicurity strategies aim to reduce unemployment and poverty rates in the European Union (EU). In particular, they help to facilitate the integration of the most underprivileged groups on the labour market (such as the young, women, older workers and the long-term unemployed).

Flexicurity strategies

The national strategies are to be put in place on the basis of four mutually reinforcing principles:

  • flexible and reliable work contracts, in accordance with labour laws, collective agreements and modern work organisation principles;
  • the introduction of lifelong learning strategies, to support the continual adaptability of employees, particularly the most vulnerable in the labour market;
  • effective active labour market policies (ALMP) to help employees find employment again after a period out of work;
  • the modernisation of social security systems, to provide financial support which encourages employment and facilitates labour market mobility.

The social partners must participate actively in the introduction of flexicurity strategies to guarantee the proper application of these principles.

Common principles at European level

Member States adapt their flexicurity strategies according to the specific features of their labour market. However, the Commission recommends that they follow a set of principles:

  • broadening the introduction of the Lisbon Strategy to improve employment and social cohesion within the EU;
  • striking a balance between the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees, persons seeking employment and public authorities;
  • adapting the principle of flexicurity to the circumstances of each Member State;
  • supporting and protecting employees when they are not in work or during a period of transition, to integrate them into the labour market or to coach them towards stable work contracts;
  • developing flexicurity within the enterprise as well as external flexicurity between enterprises, in order to support career development;
  • promoting gender equality and equal opportunities for all;
  • encouraging co-operation between the social partners, the authorities and other stakeholders;
  • a fair distribution of the budgetary costs and the benefits of flexicurity policies, especially between businesses, individuals and public budgets, with particular attention to SMEs.

European financing can make a significant contribution to the financing of flexicurity strategies. The structural funds support in-house training, lifelong learning and the promotion of an enterprise culture in particular.