Val Duchesse Summit: 40 years of social dialogue in 2025

Establishment of Eunropean Social Dialogue Envoy at the EU level and preparation of the Pact for Social Dialogue.

"For the European Union to work, we need competition that stimulates, solidarity that unites and cooperation that strengthens." (Jacques Delors, 1985)
“Social Europe will be built by and with the social partners. Social Partner must be again at the heart of the future”. (Ursula von de Leyen, 2024)

As part of its EU presidency, Belgium started preparations to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of social dialogue in Val Duchesse in 1985, which aimed to initiate social dialogue and involve European social partners in the internal market process.
Four decades later, EC President Ursula von der Leyen organized a high-level tripartite social summit on 31. 1. 2024 in the historic Val Duchesse together with Prime Minister De Croo of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the leaders of European employers' and workers' organizations, which will give a new impetus social dialogue at EU level and will contribute to a competitive and fair economic recovery. The summit will be attended by Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for promoting our European way of life, Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and leaders of the European social partners.
During the summit, participants will reflect on the importance of social dialogue in addressing pressing issues in the world of work, including labour and skills shortages.
The tradition of Tripartite Social Summits for Growth and Employment was established in March 2003, as were dialogues on macroeconomics, employment, social protection and education and training.
European bipartite social dialogue between European employers' and trade unions takes place within the Intersectoral Social Dialogue Committee and 43 Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees, the latter covering a total of more than 75% of the European workforce.
In the Council Recommendation on strengthening the alignment of social dialogue in the EU from June 2023, the Commission, together with the social partners, will strive to ensure a more significant involvement of the social partners in the governance of public affairs in the EU, in the creation of EU policy and to support the functioning of industrial relations and social dialogue in the member states EU.
Social dialogue, including collective bargaining, is an essential and beneficial tool for a well-functioning social market economy that promotes economic and social resilience, competitiveness, stability and sustainable, inclusive growth and development. The Val Duchesse summit marked a historic moment. He laid the foundations for the involvement of European social partners in EU policy-making. This paved the way for how EU social policies are shaped today and developed the European Single Market.

Declaration from Val Duchesse

The recent crisis has had a major impact on the cost of living and the competitiveness of our businesses and on the resilience of our citizens and societies. The EU has taken immediate and decisive action to mitigate the impact of these crises on our economy and society, while maintaining its synthetic green, digital and social agenda. Following on from them, the full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the future of the single market and European competitiveness will be at the heart of the Union's priorities for the coming years.
The Declaration from Val Duchesse represents a renewed commitment to social dialogue at EU level and joining forces to tackle the key challenges our economy and labour markets continue to face. The aim is to achieve prosperous companies of all sizes, services of general interest and public services, quality jobs and improved working conditions.
As part of this commitment to end and integrate social dialogue into EU policy-making, the European Commission, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European social partners commit to the following:

Addressing labour and skills shortages
Labour and skills shortages in many sectors have become an obstacle to sustainable growth. The EU's future long-term competitiveness must go hand in hand with quality jobs and a workforce that is equipped with the right skills. The right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning, as set out in principle 1 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, is essential to help all working, unemployed and inactive people.
Based on policy measures taken by the EU and its Member States, the signatories have committed to doing their part to bring more people into the labour market, improve working conditions, facilitate the recognition of qualifications and integrate workers coming from abroad through social dialogue and collective bargaining.
The Commission, in cooperation with the social partners, will present an action plan to address labour and skills shortages by spring 2024.

Establishment of a European for Social Dialogue Envoy
In order to support the role of social dialogue at the European and national level, the support of a special envoy for European social dialogue will be established within the European Commission. The European social dialogue envoy will support and coordinate the implementation of the Commission's communication on promoting social dialogue in the EU, drawing on the Commission's network of social dialogue coordinators and being a contact point for social partners to jointly raise concerns related to social dialogue

Pact for European Social Dialogue
This summit of the social partners in Val Duchesse starts the process towards the "Pact for European Social Dialogue". A series of tripartite and bipartite meetings with the European social partners will be held to identify new proposals for a strengthening of European Social Dialogue..
The meetings will address, among other things, EU institutional and financial support for European social dialogue at all levels, capacity building of social partners, including the use of ESF+, and social partners in candidate countries, an agreed bipartite approach to the issues of negotiation processes and the implementation and enforcement of autonomous agreements and agreements implemented through a European Directive/Council Decision. of this process, the social "Pact for European Dialogue" will be concluded by the beginning of 2025.

Full text of the declaration

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