On 14 December 2020, EFEE attended the last Liaison Forum of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the year, which took place online. The Liaison Forum brings together EU cross-industry and sectoral social partners to discuss the latest developments in the field of social dialogue.
The Liaison Forum opened with an exchange between the attending social partners and Ms Andrea Nahles, special advisor to Commissioner Schmit on social dialogue. Ms Nahles expounded on her upcoming report within the framework of the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be released in February 2021, and asked the participants for their input on how to improve social dialogue both at the national and European level. During the exchange, the following key elements were highlighted by both Ms Nahles and the social partners as crucial to strengthening social dialogue: (1) more timely and meaningful social partners’ consultations at EU level, (2) strengthening the involvement of social partners in the EU Semester, (3) the improvement of the tripartite social summit, and (4) the provision of more support for capacity-building at the national level. Subsequently, the participants were given an update on the social policy developments from the European Commission. In this regard, the most important initiative was the Public Consultation and upcoming dedicated hearing on the Strategic Framework on OSH. Following this update, Mr. Norbert Schöbel (Team Leader – Policy in Action: VET and Adult learning Initiatives, DG EMPL) and Ms. Anna Nikowska (Policy Officer, Social Affairs & Inclusion, DG EMPL) presented the Pact for Skills, which was launched on 10 November 2020. With their presentation, they urged participants to encourage their members to join the Pact as it will offer them additional networking, resources and knowledge for upskilling and reskilling. Any organisation who is interested in signing up to the Pact can do so on the following website. As a final highlight, the Commission gave some more insight into the effects of Brexit on social dialogue meetings at the EU-level. More specifically, it was clarified that starting from 1 January 2020, the United Kingdom will be regarded as a third country and will therefore only be invited to social dialogue meetings as experts. These experts will only be able to claim reimbursements for their travel expenses to Brussels upon prior authorization of the Commission, which will assess each individual case to see if the reimbursement is justified and necessary.
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