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European social model

ILO calls on EU countries to boost and modernize social dialogue

ILO Deputy Director-General insists on the crucial role social dialogue can play to achieve balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth in European countries.

Press release | 20 May 2016
PARIS (ILO News) – Social dialogue between government, employers and workers is a powerful tool to address persistent labour market imbalances and sustain economic and jobs recovery in the European Union, ILO Deputy Director-General Deborah Greenfield told a high-level meeting of governments, the social partners and international experts.

Addressing the Tripartite Knowledge Sharing Conference on “Post-crisis social dialogue: Good practices in the EU 28”, Greenfield shared the first findings of a forthcoming ILO report funded by the European Union.

The report clearly shows that social dialogue suffered during the crisis in half of the countries covered by the study. However, from 2013 onwards when the crisis eased, social dialogue recovered but not in all countries.

Trends in the countries observed also highlight the mounting pressure for labour market reform which often weakened social protection policies. The latter often act as an important buffer in favour of those who live in poverty or on the brink of it.

Nothing short of a serious commitment and sustainable collaborative efforts will rebuild those institutions and find new ways of working together."

Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General
“We need to reject any claim that the ‘new normal’ is one that has no room for social dialogue,” she warned; reminding the audience that social dialogue lies not only at the heart of the ILO mandate but also of the European social model.

Greenfield also highlighted that – based on the early findings of the report – countries where social dialogue has proven more resilient had done better in weathering the crisis.

“Governments and representatives from employers and workers have a responsibility to reinvigorate existing social dialogue institutions. Nothing short of a serious commitment and sustainable collaborative efforts will rebuild those institutions and find new ways of working together,” she said.

Finally, the ILO senior official insisted that social dialogue institutions could also help develop creative policy proposals for a sustainable economic and jobs recovery.

“I strongly believe that the aftermath of the crisis has opened up new possibilities for tripartite and bipartite institutions to demonstrate their value in shaping a new social and economic contract. I encourage both governments and social partners to engage in an informed debate about options to modernize social dialogue institutions for the future,” she concluded.

The outcome of the discussions at the Paris conference will be included into the final version of the ILO report.