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Newsletter

Historic Val Duchesse summit re-launches SD

Social partners agree to new initiatives at European level.

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Nearly forty years after the initial summit, social partners gathered in Val Duchesse to commit to a new era of social dialogue at European level. Eurocadres, as part of the workers’ delegation, were represented by President Nayla Glaise, meeting with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Commission Vice-President Schinas, Commissioner Schmit, and Belgian Deputy Prime Ministers Dermagne, Vandenbroucke and Clarinval, amongst others.

While addressing labour and skills shortages and the role of social dialogue in Europe’s socio-economic system, the summit also afforded participants the opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Jacques Delors, attempting to affirm his belief that social partners are “les forces vives de la Société”, first uttered 39 years ago. Prime Minister De Croo echoed these sentiments in his address to both the worker and employer delegation, stating that “social partners throughout Europe have an essential role to play, together with governments on every level. A strengthened and revitalised social dialogue is the key to our common success”.

Central to the summit’s conclusions was the announcement of the creation of a “European Social Dialogue Envoy” as a dedicated point of contact forpartners about concerns related to social dialogue. This will be supplemented by a joint declaration that initiates a process of bipartite and tripartite meetings to identify how to reinforce social dialogue further at EU level, including a commitment to financial support for social dialogue at a European level. In addition, social partners will, with the European Commission, present an action plan aimed at tackling skills shortages by spring 2024, with an emphasis on the green and digital transitions. A key demand of Eurocadres in the last number of years, we will continue to advocate for a legal right to training, during working hours, as part of working life throughout the bloc. We will fail to digitalise and green the European economy without providing workers with the tools to deliver on challenges ahead.

Big quote: “Val Duchesse has a historical place in the European Union, and affords us an opportunity to reset social dialogue at a time of change in the EU. We applaud the commitment of the Commission and Belgian presidency to this crucial democratic pillar, and will continue to push for further victories for Europe’s professionals and managers” – Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise

Speaking on the events in Val Duchesse, Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise said: “Taking the place for professionals and managers in such an important high-level event, with Europe at a crossroads ahead of this year’s elections, was a chance to emphasis not only our commitment to social dialogue, but also our desire for more ambition. After the failure of social partner negotiations on telework and the right-to-disconnect, it would be wrong to carry on with business as usual. This summit should act as a reminder of the importance of social dialogue to employers.

Val Duchesse has a historical place in the European Union, and affords us an opportunity to reset social dialogue at a time of change in the EU. We applaud the commitment of the Commission and Belgian presidency to this crucial democratic pillar, and will continue to push for further victories for Europe’s professionals and managers”.

Eurocadres echoes the calls of Commissioner Schmit to make social dialogue results-based, and re-emphasises our request to the Commissioner to provide results for European workers on a right to disconnect and telework proposal. While our commitment to social dialogue is unwavering, when it fails to find consensus, a strong Commission push for outcomes must promptly follow.

As referenced by Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the ongoing presidency has been heavily focused on social affairs. While social dialogue fits into this category, so too does the EU’s new financial rules. In support of the No to Austerity 2.0 campaign, we call on the Belgian government to think of the social decimation caused by austerity, and ensure fiscal rules work for all workers.