Social dialogue was the focus at the traditional Tripartite Social Summit, on 24 October. On this occasion, the European Commission, the Council and the European social partners repeated their commitment to building an employment-rich and inclusive Europe - and to do so in a manner that respects social dialogue. The representatives of workers and employers also presented a joint declaration on their involvement in the European economic governance process, which proposes, among other things, to add the Tripartite Social Summit conclusions to the European Council conclusions.
But behind this apparent consensus on objectives and procedure, the various speakers had different views about how to reinforce social Europe. The contentious point of view of trade unions and private employers on introducing a minimum salary in all the member states was evidence of this, with private employers strongly opposed to this idea.
"Strengthening our economy is not an end in itself: it is a means to pursue what is in essence a social objective," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said after the Tripartite Social Summit. "Social and employment considerations must feature more prominently in current EU economic governance structures, and the social partners at European Union and national levels must become more involved in this process," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said before going on to list the topics on the European Council's agenda. These are: 1. the digital economy, innovation and services; 2. fighting youth unemployment, financing the economy and smart regulation; 3. boosting economic coordination, the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the banking union; 4. the Eastern Partnership; and 5. migration.
The European social partners - European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) for workers; and BusinessEurope, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP) for employers - agreed with the idea of reinforcing social Europe. In fact, during the meeting, they outlined a series of possible ways of stepping up their participation in the...