While the European intersectoral social dialogue has been, according to the Commission’s own admission, dragging its feet for the last few years on account of a lack of commitment on the part of the private sector employers, the sectoral social dialogue is often presented as a more dynamic and successful venture. A dialogue along sectoral lines has been set in motion by employer and labour organisations from a current total of 43 economic sectors of the European economy (from metalworking through road transport to public services and many others).

On the strength of its data base containing more than 730 joint texts produced in the context of the sectoral social dialogue, the ETUI set out to verify this claim concerning the dynamism of this process. The findings are that the sectoral dialogue has indeed continued to spread and that it has produced, in the last few years, a large number of agreements of substance. Yet the picture is not all rosy. While the dynamism of some sectors is impressive, others, by contrast, are languishing in a state of lethargy. What is more, some member states have recently displayed reluctance to transpose social dialogue agreements implemented by means of directive, even though provision to this end is contained in the Treaty. Finally – and this feature may already be the consequence of the foregoing – the sectoral social partners have in recent years produced more ‘joint lobbying texts’ addressed to the European institutions than ‘joint agreements’ concluded, for example, in order to improve working conditions, training facilities, or workplace health and safety provision.

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