ILO promotes the reinforcement of social dialogue in Europe at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers' Council (EPSCO) meeting in Madrid

The Director of the ILO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Beate Andrees, highlighted the importance of social protection in making societies and economies more resilient.

Noticia | 21 de julio de 2023
The ILO participated in the informal EPSCO Committee meeting together with representatives of the European Commission and Ministers of Employment, Social Security and Social Policy
In the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second half of 2023, the informal meeting of the EPSCO Committee, which brings together the EU ministers responsible for the matter, was held in Madrid on 13 and 14 July 2023. An ILO delegation, led by Beate Andrees, participated in order to promote social protection and social dialogue as mechanisms to ensure social justice and stimulate prosperity and resilience in Europe.

The meeting was held under the title "Social dialogue and social shield for people-centred policies: social dialogue as a tool of democratic legitimacy for a social, green and feminist Europe" with the aim of addressing experiences in dealing with social dialogue, care policies and boosting social protection mechanisms in European countries, among other issues.

The relevance of social dialogue

During the first debate, on national and European experiences on social dialogue, the shared commitment to the implementation of the recently adopted Recommendation on social dialogue and the need to strengthen social dialogue not only at country level but also at EU level emerged. To this end, new binding European agreements such as the one under negotiation on telework and the right to disconnect will be addressed; and the possibility of concluding European collective agreements in transnational companies in Europe was also discussed. In addition, the need to strengthen the social partners and the importance of their training and the desirability of establishing incentives and adequate funding for the social partners were discussed during the meeting.

Some topics were highlighted as particularly relevant to be addressed through social dialogue, such as: the digital transition, mental health at work, training and professional skills or the ecological transition. Finally, several proposals were put forward to strengthen the role of the social partners in the EU agenda, such as the possibility of creating an alert mechanism to exceptionally involve the social partners in the design of key policies at national or European level, and the participation of the social partners in the legislative and drafting process of the European Commission's Work Programme, or through the Social Dialogue Committee or the Tripartite Summit, as particularly privileged spaces for social dialogue.

Decent work in the care sector

In the second session, where the debate focused on care policy under the title "National experiences and developments in EU care policies: social dialogue and civil society", the Director of the ILO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia spoke of the great potential for job creation in care. According to ILO forecasts, 280 million new jobs could be created by 2030 if the right investments are made. However, there are many challenges in the quality of jobs where gender gaps, low wages, informality, among others, prevail.

Beate Andrees, Director of the ILO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, participated in the meeting to highlight the value of social dialogue and the commitment to social policies
The country representatives, in their speeches, highlighted the shortcomings of the system of care for dependency as a result of the pandemic generated by COVID-19 and therefore agreed on the need to remedy them so that the European population does not see its rights and well-being limited because of age or situations of dependency.

To achieve this, the value of the European Care Strategy was highlighted as the central pillar, in which the system is centred on the person and developed in the community, so that it is a generator of decent jobs in the EU while improving working conditions, training and rights at work for carers in both the formal and informal economy.

In this perspective, social dialogue is also key to a new approach to care policies, to the exchange of good practices and peer review in order to improve service provision and through a permanent and effective dialogue with civil society and experts.

The European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, called on EU member states to ratify ILO Convention 189 on domestic work.

Improving social protection mechanisms

The third and final session was devoted to social protection. Ministers and Heads of Delegation discussed the importance of prioritising investments and reforms that improve people's resilience to economic and social uncertainties and a better welfare state.

The Second Vice-President of the Spanish Government and Minister of Labour and Social Economy greets the ILO Director for Europe and Central Asia
Spain has been working with the incoming Belgian Presidency on a proposal to preserve investment in Europe, within the new European governance framework. The two presidencies have coordinated an intense work programme for the coming months, which will also identify specific social investment projects with high returns, focusing on specific policies and generating evidence of their cost-effectiveness. A conference on minimum income and social investment to be held in Aranjuez on 16 October was also announced, where European minimum income schemes will be discussed, especially in the areas of coverage and assimilation of these benefits and the social and labour market inclusion of minimum income beneficiaries. The debate also focused on the social protection of the self-employed and its possible improvement in the EU.

Beate Andrees, who stressed the crucial role of adequate social protection systems in mitigating inequalities and making societies more resilient and productive, also highlighted the importance of the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions.