Joint European Social Dialogue Projects

European Sectoral social partners in education promoting quality of academic teaching and management

With this project, the European Education Social Partners aim to continue on the work laid out by the ESSDE Work Programme 2020-2021 and its overall goal to realize quality education for all by improving the quality of teaching and school management through European cooperation and dialogue. Quality of teaching and learning in higher education has gained significant momentum on a European level mainly due to the emphasis placed on relevant and high-quality education in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as well as the progress made by the Bologna Process regarding structural reform in higher education. Nevertheless, emerging mass trends including digitalization, migration, adult learning, sustainability and even recent global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, will affect quality in higher education in unprecedented ways and needs to be addressed. Moreover, there remains substantial confusion around the exact definition of quality of learning and teaching as well as quality of management within the higher education sector. These issues will be addressed on a preliminary basis with the publication of the Bologna Follow-up Group’s Ministerial Communiqué of Rome (Rome Communiqué), which is expected to be signed in November 2020 during the Ministerial Conference of the EHEA in Rome. The Rome Communiqué is intended to develop joint European initiatives to support and stimulate a wide range of innovative learning and teaching practices in the context of lifelong learning, which will build on existing good practices across Member States. In doing so, the Rome Communiqué will lay the groundwork to establish Principles for Quality of Teaching in Higher Education.

Partners involved in the project advisory group:

EFEE Secretariat, ETUCE Secretariat

ETUCE members: AOB (NL) –  GEW (DE) – FENPROF (PT)

EFEE members: CNEF (PT) –  VSNU (NL) – MRK  (HU)

Project outcomes

•1 survey on current examples of quality and teaching management
•2 reflection reports on the PLAs
•1 research report carried out by an external expert
•1-day Final Conference in Brussels to share and discuss project findings
•Possible Joint Statement of EFEE and ETUCE on implementation
•1 final project report in English (including Executive summary translation in 3 other languages DE, FR and ES)


OSH4Edu: European Sectoral Social Partners in Education Enhancing Risk Assessment in Education Institutions (2020)

This project is designed to continue the work of EFEE and ETUCE on the occupational health and safety in the education sector. Education institutions – including all education levels and covering both teaching and non-teaching staff working in the education sector – are the workplace of school leaders, teachers and other education staff, but they are first and foremost education institutions for students. As social partners in education we see it as our joint responsibility to support the creation of an atmosphere where students can learn and teachers and other members of staff in education can carry out their work in a healthy and safe setting.

The risk assessment of the workplace is one of the cornerstones of good health and safety management, and is therefore a legal obligation for the employer . In 2019, the European Social Partners in education developed an Online Interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA) tool for the pre-primary and secondary education sector, in cooperation with the European Agency for Occupational Health and Safety (EU-OSHA). The tool is intended to facilitate the systematic and thorough assessment of risks in education institutions of all sizes by the staff member(s) responsible. It aims to help employers to develop an action plan to prevent and combat these risks, in alignment with European legislation, and in close consultation with staff and their union representatives, who understand their workplaces better than anyone else. The online tool is furthermore designed to be adjustable to take account of national settings, and of the circumstances of each individual workplace.

The purpose of this project is to raise awareness on occupational health and safety in the education sector (from pre-primary and secondary education up to Vocational Education and Training (VET) and higher education), by examining the use of risk assessments to tackle health and safety challenges in education institutions (including psychosocial hazards), by promoting the implementation of the jointly developed OiRA tool and by exploring the opportunities to further develop an OiRA tool for the VET and Higher Education level. Herewith ETUCE and EFEE wish to implement their commitment to work jointly towards safer and healthier working environments, which promotes success in teaching and learning.

Partners involved in project advisory group:

EFEE Secretariat, ETUCE Secretariat

and the following EFEE members: Association of Pre-School Principals of Slovenia & Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) of Ireland

And two ETUCE members (teacher trade unions): ESTUS from Slovenia and SINDEP from Portugal

Project outcomes:

  • 1 survey conducted among members of EFEE and ETUCE to map their current knowledge, practices and challenges when it comes to the use of risk assessments (in particular OiRA-tool) to promote OSH (including psychosocial hazards) in education institutions.
  • 2 interactive Workshop meetings organised in Slovenia (22 April) and Ireland (9 September).
  • 1 training module/presentation on the OiRA-tools for the education sector (Pre-Primary and Secondary Education level), developed with EU-OSHA, to be used in the two Workshops.
  • 1 final report in English; presenting the general conclusions on “How social partners in education can contribute to the use of risk assessments (in particular OiRA-tools) to tackle health and safety challenges (including psychosocial hazards) in education institutions (and the specific challenges and needs related different education levels: pre-primary, secondary, higher education and vocational education and training)”
  • 1 Final conference organised in Brussels to discuss and disseminate the project outcomes.
  • Possible Joint Statement of European Social Partners in Education (EFEE and ETUCE) committing themselves to the promotion of the implementation of OiRA tools in Education and calling for the need to develop tools specific for VET and Higher education sectors in coming years.
Lifelong Learning for All: Social Partners in Education promoting quality and inclusive VET to enhance lifelong learning for all (2019-2020)

Quality vocational education and training (VET) plays a fundamental role in raising the level of education and developing the skills of young people and adults. By doing so, it supports their employability and social inclusion. As also stressed in the Council recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning (2018), education and training are part of the solution to get more people into decent jobs, respond better to the skills the economy needs and strengthen Europe’s resilience. The rapid societal, technological, environmental and demographical developments of today’s society and related changes in skills and competences requirements, expose the need for “an inclusive, lifelong-learning-based and innovation-driven approach to education and training”, as stated in the European Council Conclusions of 14 December 2017 setting out the steps to further follow-up on the European Pillar of Social Rights and to deliver on the European Skills Agenda.

However in many European countries VET is not considered as first choice, as also underlined in the European Skills Agenda, and research shows (e.g. from the OECD) that lifelong learning strategies often do not reach the group people who are threatened with exclusion and in most need of further learning and developing. If European countries want to remain inclusive and competitive at the same time, we need to find ways to offer more tailor made and flexible programs (including apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities) in order to make participation of VET more attractive, feasible and accessible to all, and by doing so to enhance the lifelong learning opportunities for all European citizens (no matter their socio-economic and educational background). Quality, attractiveness and inclusiveness of VET is a necessity and a shared responsibility of employers, employees, providers and governments and therefore a crucial topic for the European Social Partners in Education: the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE, of which the MBO Raad is a member) and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).


Partners involved in project advisory group:

MBO Raad, EFEE Secretariat, ETUCE Secretariat

and the following EFEE members: Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers (AFIEE), Finland; Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), Ireland; National Association of Professional Schools (ANESPO), Portugal; Bildungsverband (BBB), Germany; Association of Secondary and Vocational School Headmasters (DR), Slovenia; EDUFORM Education and Training Employers Federation, Romania.

And two ETUCE members: National Federation of Education (FNE) (teacher union), Portugal, Inkeri Toikka, Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), Finland


Project outcomes:

  • 5 (2-days) meetings (transnational PLAs to the Netherlands, Slovenia, Finland, Germany, and Portugal organised in the period of April 2019 – June 2020)
  • 1 final report; which contains the above mentioned documents and general conclusions and recommendations on how to promote quality and inclusive VET (including apprenticeships) to enhance lifelong learning for all
  • A film visually summarising the main outcomes of the PLAs
  • 1 day final conference organised in Brussels to discuss and disseminate the project outcomes (November 2020)
  • A possible joint ESSDE outcome on social partners in education promoting quality and inclusive VET to enhance lifelong learning for all
Promoting an effective integration of migrants and refugees in education: a key task for social partners (2018-2019)

This project is meant to continue sustainably on the work that ETUCE and EFEE have accomplished in previous ESSDE Working Groups on the key role of the education social partners in addressing refugees’ and migrants’ integration into the education and socio-economic environment of the host countries across the EU and EU-candidate countries. Further to contributing to the implementation of a specific theme of the current ESSDE Work program, the project regards the promotion of social dialogue, demographic challenges and follows-up on the joint work on improving the support to educators dealing with students from migrant origin, including continuous professional development. In its aim to support the commitment of the social partners for facilitating an effective integration of refugees and migrants of all ages in the education system of a host country, ETUCE and EFEE directly support the implementation and follow-up of the Paris Declaration, contributing to promoting intercultural dialogue and democratic citizenship in education and training in general, as well as to prepare education institutions for a successful integration of students of migrant origin in education including the competencies of teachers, educators and school leaders.

From EFEE’s side, the Secretariat and EFEE members from Ireland (Fiona Maloney, Education and Training Boards Ireland) and Belgium (Koenraad Vandenbussche, GO! Education of the Flemish Community) take part in the project advisory group.

Project Outcomes

European Sectoral Social Partners in Education striving for sustainable influence on European education policy building through successful social dialogue - ESSDE capacity building project III

This project aimed to continue on the two previous ETUCE and EFEE projects focusing on social dialogue capacity building. The projects demonstrate the education social partners’ will to work sustainably on the improvement of their social dialogue and towards stronger and more effective results at European level, which could better serve the member organisations at national level. While the two previous ESSDE capacity building projects focused on EU Member States and EU-Candidate countries with a more recent social dialogue tradition, or where social dialogue was weakened due to the economic crisis, this project moved to the next stage and included countries which did not need to focus on capacity building due to their long and solid social dialogue tradition. Instead, the process of strengthening the links between national and European social dialogue was addressed. Rather than restricting the agenda on the functioning of social dialogue, national participants selected topics from the current ESSDE Work Programme and can now feed the ESSDE with the results of their debates.
In the framework of the project, European and national social partners’ Round Table meetings conducted in Dublin, Porto, Utrecht, Rome, Malta and Luxembourg brought together national social partners with ESSDE delegates, related stakeholders and external experts at national and at European level, to discuss topics from the ESSDE Work Programme with relevance to the national contexts. By addressing the implementation of selected ESSDE Work Programme topics at all levels, this project is intended to further develop the capacity for a meaningful and effective European education social dialogue. Furthermore a Final Conference was organised in Sofia (Bulgaria) on 13-14 June 2018 to present and discuss the outcomes of the project with all EFEE and ETUCE members.

Project outcomes

  • Folder of the Final Conference including project outline, conference agenda and biographies of speakers in EN
  • Working document of the Final Conference including outcomes of Roundtable meetings in EN
Improving Social Partners’ involvement in EU support for public investments in education and training (2016-2017)

The objective of the project is to enhance the role of social partners at European, national, and regional level, in funding and investment opportunities for training and education. The project will contribute to the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment and the enhanced implementation and use of funds provided by ESF and by EIB. Project partners are CEEP, ETUC, EFEE and ETUCE. Within the framework of the project two mapping-out studies will be conducted:

Research Study 1: What is the current picture of EU funding and investment allocated to publicly provided training and education; who makes the decision on the design, the principles and on the priorities and what is the role of the social partners on these decisions? Interviews will be conducted with European-level decision makers and social partners.

Research Study 2: How is this funding and investment implemented at national, local and regional levels regarding public funding for different training and education programmes, infrastructure, technical equipment, etc., and what is the role of the social partners on these decisions? Interviews will be conducted with national level decision makers and social partners in 15 countries.

Project outcomes

  • Research report EU-level funds in EN, FR, IT, DE, ES, PL
  • Joint Recommendations “Improving social partners’ involvement in the EU support for public investment in education and training at EU level” in EN and FR
Social Partners Promoting Decent Workplaces in the Education Sector for a Healthier Working Life (2015-2016)

This project joins the efforts of ETUCE and EFEE, the European social partners in education, with the aim to promote decent workplaces in the education sector for a healthier working life.

Addressing the overarching EU employment and social policy challenges, this project strives to contribute to the success of the EU’s health and safety strategic framework. Acknowledging the fact that work related stress (WRS) and psychosocial risks have negative effects on health and also impose a significant financial burden on individuals, organisations and societies, this project aims to promote social partners’ initiatives to promote healthy and safe workplaces in the education sector for a healthier working life as a prerequisite for quality education. The project seeks to identify concrete and practical ways to prevent and combat WRS in education with a focus on joint social partner initiatives and to develop concrete and practical guidelines on how to promote joint social partner initiatives at national, regional and local level to prevent and combat psychosocial hazards in education.

From EFEE’s side the Secretariat, the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers (AFIEE) and Secretariat Général de l´Enseignement Catholique (SeGEC) participate in the project advisory group.

Project outcomes:

  • Case Study Report Romania 20-21 May 2015; available in EN, DE, ES, FI, FR, RO / Video Report
  • Case Study Report Finland 28-30 Sept 2015; available in EN, DE, ES, FI, FR, RO / Video Report
  • Case Study Report Belgium 25-27 Oct 2015; available in EN, DE, ES, FI, FR / Video Report
  • Case Study Report Germany 2-4 Nov 2015; available in EN, DE, ES, FI, FR, RO / Video Report
  • Report Training Seminar Madrid 11 Dec 2015 in EN
  • Report Training Seminar London 29 Jan 2016 in EN
  • Final Conference Report Bucharest 9-10 June 2016 in EN
  • Final Research Report in EN
  • Final Project Video
  • Joint Practical Guidelines in EN, FR, DE, ES, FI, RO, RU
  • Joint Declaration in EN, FR, DE, ES, FI, RO, RU
European Sectoral Social Partners in Education promoting the potentials of their dialogue through knowledge transfer and training (2015-2016)

Via this project EFEE and ETUCE will further promote the European sectoral social dialogue in education as stated in our joint work program with the wider reaching objective to support the improvement of education quality in Europe. This project intends to support social partners with the need to improve their national structures and to help them integrating better at European level. The project aims to strengthen the linkages between the national and European level social dialogue in education. Finally, the project will contribute to closer networking between social partners at national and European level. In total eight round table meetings will be organised in different EU Member States. From EFEE’s side the Secretariat and President are involved in the project advisory group.

Project outcomes

Professional autonomy, accountability and efficient leadership (2014)

The project will focus on the role of employers and teacher-unions in stimulating the effectiveness of school leaders in realising educational quality, by means of improved industrial relations and improved employment relations. In the study industrial relationships and employment relations are our starting points, but they are described from the angle of enhancing educational quality and performance. Basically governance structures in education can be described as hierarchies, with different authorities and responsibilities defined at various layers.
In a literature review key concepts like functional decentralisation, distributed leadership, types of accountability and self evaluation of schools will be discussed and clarified and the state of the art on effective school leadership and school evaluation will be summarised. Furthermore, three peer learning visits will be organised to the Netherlands, Malta and the UK. The project is led by the Secondary Education Council of the Netherlands (VO-Raad) in close cooperation with EFEE and ETUCE. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education and Employment of Malta, the Local Government Association (LGA) of the UK and the General Trade Union for Education (AOB) of the Netherlands are involved.

Project outcomes

Supporting early career researchers in Higher Education in Europe (2014)

The Working Group Higher Education and Research (HE&R) of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education focused in 2012 on three areas: gender equality; the environment for early career researchers; and the mobility of academic staff within Europe. National social partners of both employers and trade unions had selected these subjects during previous working group sessions in 2011. In 2012, these members of the Working Group shared national, mainly institutional, examples of practice and policy on these topics.  In this research project we will focus on how we as European Social Partners in education could better support early career researchers in Higher Education. The project will be led by the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) of the UK in close cooperation with EFEE and ETUCE. Furthermore EFEE members from Cyprus (Ministry of Education and Culture), Finland (Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers) and Sweden (Arbetsgivarverket) are also involved.

Project outcomes

Matching Education with Labour Market Needs (2013)

The aim of this project is to focus on what kind of competences are necessary to make sure that people can adapt to the demands of public services providers in the future. This will be done by bringing from the start employers and participants from the education sector together. Skills and competences gaps is a crucial issue for the labour market. These gaps occur more frequently nowadays for several reasons: jobs are becoming more technical and the proportion of people with technical ability may not have increased as rapidly; there is a need to develop communication skills in different languages in a more globalised work; working methods are changing, etc. In this project CEEP and its sectoral member EFEE joined forces to achieve the best possible results.

Project outcomes

How to Prevent and Mitigate Third-Party Violence and Harassment in Schools? (2012)

In 2012, a new project is launched by ETUCE on third party violence in schools: How to Prevent and Mitigate Third-Party Violence and Harassment in Schools? In contrast to the former project, which has a multi-sectoral approach, the new project focuses only on the education sector. The aim of this project is to raise awareness and to ensure that the multi-sectoral guidelines on third party violence are used amongst teachers and education employers. The project results will help to prepare the progress report of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Education on the implementation of the guidelines in the education sector.

Project outcomes

Promotion, awareness-raising and dissemination of the multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work (2010/2011)

On 16 July 2010, EPSU, UNI EUROPA, ETUCE, HOSPEEM, CEMR, EFEE, EUROCOMMERCE, COESS, representing the social partners of the commerce, private security, local governments, education and hospital sectors reached an agreement on multi-sectoral guidelines aimed to tackle third-party violence and harassment at work. The aim of the Guidelines is to ensure that that each workplace has a results-oriented policy which addresses the issue of third-party violence. The Guidelines set out the practical steps that can be taken by employers, workers and their representatives/trade unions to reduce, prevent and mitigate problems. The steps reflect the best practices developed in our sectors and they can be complemented by more specific and/or additional measures.

Project outcomes

  • Multi-Sectoral Guidelines to Tackle Third-Party Violence and Harassment Related to Work (July 2010) in EN, FR and DE
Teachers' Work-Related Stress: assessing, comparing and evaluating the impact of psychosocial hazards on teachers at their workplace (2011)

In 2011 EFEE took part in the ETUCE project: Teachers’ work-related stress: European-wide Survey – Assessment, Comparison and Evaluation of the Impact of Psychosocial Hazards on Teachers at their Workplace in the EU. The goal of the project was to raise awareness on the European Autonomous Framework Agreement on Work-Relates Stress (WRS), signed by the European Social Partners in 2004, and its implementation in the education sector. In order to collect up-to-date statistics and information on teachers\’ work-related stress a survey has been conducted among teachers in 500 primary and secondary schools and VET institutions across Europe, targeting 5 to 10 teachers per school. The overall survey results were presented at the Final Project Conference in Berlin, in November 2011.

Project outcomes

  • Final Project Report in EN
Leadership and Governance in Schools as instruments for improving student results and preparing them for lifelong learning (2011)

EFEE chose this subject in the well-founded belief that leadership at school level is of critical importance to the improvement of student results and that there are increasing demands for school leaders and those who hold them to account to rise to new challenges in a rapidly changing environment. While not advocating a common approach to matters best left to national or sub-national level, EFEE wished from the start of the project to acquire a better understanding of the various different approaches and their relative strengths and weaknesses. The objectives of the EFEE project included providing a platform for the exchange of views and knowledge on leadership and governance, based on a comparative survey of EFEE member organisations. Another particularly important objective was to provide a springboard for future work in this area, including active participation in the work of the European Policy Network on School Leadership.

Project outcomes

  • Final Project Report in EN
  • Executive summaries of the Project Report in FR and DE
The challenge of implementing Lifelong Learning Strategies (2009/2010)

For more than a decade education stakeholders in Europe have paid considerable attention to Lifelong Learning (LLL) in parallel with new initiatives from the European Commission and the Member States with the aim to improve lifelong learning in the European education systems and to develop explicit lifelong learning strategies. However, the 2008 Joint Council/Commission Report on the implementation of the Education & Training 2010 work programme concluded that the actual implementation of LLL remains a challenge. As a result, three major stakeholders in Education, ETUCE, EFEE and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) initiated a project with the aim to create an overall coherent framework for the implementation of the diverse National Lifelong Learning Strategies (NLLLS) of the Member States.

Project outcomes

Joint ESSDE Work Programme 2020-2021

The context for the 2020-2021 joint Work Programme:

The year 2020 is a special year for the partners of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE), the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE). Firstly, it marks the 10 years jubilee of the ESSDE, launched in 2010, under the Articles 154-155 of the TFEU. Secondly, 2020 is the year in which the new European Commission has launched its ambitious goal to create “A Union that strives for more”. For ETUCE and EFEE it is clear that a strong European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education has a key-role to play in addressing the challenges of today’s society for environmental sustainability, digital competences; and above all, towards a strong social and cohesive Europe. Of utmost importance for ETUCE and EFEE within the 2020-2021 Work Programme of the ESSDE partners is the contribution to achieving Principle 1 of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) and Goal 4 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as it sets the targets to reach high quality education, especially through the European Semester.

This is all the more important at the time that COVID-19 outbreak causes an unprecedented health, social and economic crisis, with dramatic repercussions on students as well as education personnel and authorities.

The ESSDE partners are to continue to work together to continue progressing towards an effective and efficient social dialogue, grounded in a stronger commitment of its members to reach meaningful results for an attractive teaching profession which are valuable both at European and at national, regional and local level, and are based on clear objectives, mutual trust, respect and cooperation.

The detailed ESSDE Work Programme 2020-2021 can be found here.

Joint ESSDE Work Programme 2018-2019

The context for the 2018-2019 joint Work Programme

The European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) was launched in 2010, under the Articles 154-155 of the TFEU. This came after four years of initiation and start-up processes carried out by the ETUCE and from early 2009 onwards, together with EFEE. Since its establishment in 2010, the course of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue on Education (ESSDE) has been confronted by obstacles and challenges to overcome. Agreeing on national representation, identifying and organising partners, and organising at EU level, are only some of the challenges the ESSDE has been facing. In the broader context, the launch of the ESSDE coincided with the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis of 2008, which has resulted in social dialogue being under strain in several countries and at European level in the face of more immediate economic concerns.

Only in 2015, the European Commission made clear that one of its major tasks would be the relaunch of social dialogue, including at sectoral level. As a follow-up to this renewed will, the European Commission and the Presidency of the Council committed to promote and to improve discussions and negotiations between the social partners and institutions, at national and European level, on policy areas which go beyond the traditional scope of Article 154. Additionally, the European Pillar of Social Rights, hailed by the European Commission President Juncker as an ambitious initiative paving the way for the establishment of a more social Europe, has opened a new momentum for social dialogue as key practice conducive to growth, social cohesion and equality. Laying at the very foundation of the Pillar endorsed by the European leaders in November 2017, there is the right of everyone to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning.

Embracing the commitment of the EU to deepening social dialogue as central to the delivery of social rights, and in particular to implement the right to quality and inclusive education for all, and drawing on the experience acquired through a decade of joint activities, as European social partners in education, we recognise that the ESSDE is now progressing towards an effective and efficient social dialogue, grounded in a stronger commitment of its members to reach meaningful social dialogue outcomes which are valuable both at European and at national level, regional and local level, and are based on clear objectives, mutual trust, respect and cooperation. With this in mind, we also recognise the vital need to continuously promote the ESSDE potentials and to further develop our social dialogue, which thus remains a high priority in the Education social partners agenda.

As European social partners in Education, we deem it important to consider in our work the impact of economical, social and demographic developments on the education sector and to continue to focus our joint work on topics that have sufficient common ground for discussion and for initiatives with a clear added value for cooperation at European level. Herewith we take also in consideration the agenda of the European Commission in the field of education, employment and social affairs, in particular the work of DG Education and Culture and DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. We wish to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education in Europe thereby focusing on the modernisation of the education sector, its managements and its teaching personnel. In all our work we keep in mind the gender equality principle.

The European social partners in Education will consequently continue to keep in close and frequent contact to ensure that – where it is appropriate to do so – they lobby the European Commission and other organisations jointly.

For the detailed ESSDE Work Programme 2018-2019 click here.

Useful links

Partner organisations:


Further information on the European Social Dialogue:

Paul George Jersey