In general and regardless of the sector, the European social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint actions involving organisations representing the two sides of industry (employers and workers).
It takes two main forms:
At European level there was no sectoral social dialogue until 1998, when the Commission decided on the establishment of sectoral dialogue committees promoting the dialogue between the social partners in the sectors at European level (Commission decision of 20 May 1998 – 98/500/EC).
The sectoral social dialogue committees are established with due regard for the autonomy of the social partners. The social partner organisations must apply jointly to the European Commission in order to take part in a social dialogue at European level. The European organisations representing employers and workers must, when submitting this application, meet a number of criteria:
Each Committee adopts its own rules of procedure, and holds at least one plenary meeting per year, dealing with more specific questions at meetings of enlarged secretariats or restricted working parties. The task of preparing meetings, the agenda and following-up work is most frequently delegated to the respective secretariats of the social partners, together with the Commission.
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