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.


Latest developments

This section gives the opportunity to keep up to date in the field of (interprofessional) European Social Dialogue.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions on the European Social Dialogue

Interprofessional European Social Dialogue Interprofessional ESD

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

The European-level sectoral social dialogue is now a well-established process, since its 30-year-old formal and informal structures were reformed on the basis of the European Commission Decision in May 1998. This Decision constitutes the foundation for sectoral social dialogue committees promoting dialogue between the social partners in sectors at European level.

There are currently some 40 sectoral social dialogue committees, which have produced a wide range of joint texts and agreements. A characteristic of the sectoral social dialogue at European level is the diversity of tools used to formalise commitments made by the social partners. The list includes opinions and common positions, declarations, guidelines and codes of conduct, charters, and also framework agreements.

In 2010, the EU Commission published a staff working document where it took stock of the main achievements of the European sectoral social dialogue and reviewed the functioning of the European sectoral social dialogue committees.


Christophe DegryseSenior Research Officer ETUITel. 0032 (0)2 224 04