We are pleased to see that the subject of social dialogue and collective bargaining has come up so often...

EU leaders, European institutions, Social Partners and civil society representatives met in Porto from 6- 8 May for a Social Summit organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. This Summit was intended as a first step towards putting social cohesion, justice and equality at the heart of European policies, following the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) in 2017.

The Summit resulted in the publication of a joint statement that welcomed the EU's efforts in the social field, but regrettably, did not include any concrete political decisions on follow-up action.

The EU Institutions, Portuguese Presidency and Social Partners committed to social objectives, including new targets to increase the EU employment rate by 78% of the population; to ensure at least 60% of Europeans participate annually in training; and to reduce the number of people in poverty by at least 15 million by 2030. They also agreed to maintain emergency measures for as long as necessary; move towards a fair, inclusive, sustainable and job-rich recovery; promote decent working conditions and fair pay for all; strengthen national social protection systems to ensure a dignified life for all; and to promote gender equality.

Trade unions strongly welcome the fact that EU leaders have acknowledged the need to move away from GDP as the only measure of economic success and to adopt an approach that puts people's well-being first. To this end, trade unions and employers' organisations presented a set of 14 measures of social, economic and environmental well-being. EU leaders also seemed willing and interested in making the SURE mechanism a permanent European instrument.

Most importantly, EU and national leaders stressed the added value of social dialogue and collective bargaining as an essential instrument for a sustainable and inclusive economic and social recovery and the green and digital transitions that benefit all.

IndustriAll European Trade Union welcomes this change of narrative on collective bargaining, which is finally seen as an instrument that can contribute to a recovery from the crisis. We hope that this recognition will lead to the much-needed rebuilding and strengthening of the collective bargaining systems that were destroyed and weakened after the last crisis.

Ahead of the Summit, trade unions and civil society addressed EU leaders with their expectations for action. They stressed the importance of turning the EPSR commitments into effective social policies, backed by adequate funding. In particular, they called for strong commitments from the EU institutions and Member States on fair wages, job security, vocational training, work-life balance and gender equality.

Luc Triangle, Secretary General of IndustriAll Europe, said: “Although the lack of concrete social measures tarnishes the outcome of the Porto Social Summit and once again shows the difficulty of the social issue in the EU, we welcome the progress made in Porto. We are pleased to see that the subject of social dialogue and collective bargaining has come up so often in the various interventions and that it is recognised as being essential to the recovery. Now we expect to also see the policies needed to strengthen collective bargaining everywhere in Europe.

“Training and measures to increase the number of people participating in upskilling is important in solving the current crisis and tackling the twin transformations, but, this is not enough. We also need a robust industrial policy combined with massive investment in creating quality jobs.”

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication)