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Document 31998D0500

Sectoral social dialogue

Sectoral social dialogue


Decision 98/500/EC on promoting dialogue between the social partners at European level



It provides the basis for the creation of sectoral social dialogue committees in different areas of EU activity where employer and employee representatives (known as the ‘social partners’) can meet to discuss policy developments. They are a feature of the wider European social dialogue* which is an essential element of the EU’s social model and governance.


  • The sectoral dialogue committees are created in sectors where organisations representing workers and employers in this sector jointly indicate they wish to take part in a dialogue at EU level. They must:
    • relate to specific economic sectors, such as banking or agriculture;
    • consist of organisations which are recognised national social partners;
    • have the capacity to negotiate agreements; and
    • represent social partners of several EU countries;
    • have the structure and resources to participate effectively in EU-level work.
  • Each committee:
    • is consulted on EU developments that have social implications in its area;
    • develops and promotes the social dialogue within its remit;
    • has a maximum number of 66 members, with an equal number of employer and employee representatives;
    • establishes, together with the European Commission, its own rules of procedure;
    • meets at least once a year;
    • is chaired either by an employer or employee representative or by a Commission official;
    • reviews regularly with the Commission its activities.
  • The sectoral dialogue committees replace earlier forms of sectoral cooperation between social partners.


It applies from 20 May 1998.


Article 152 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union confirms the EU’s commitment to support European social dialogue and recognises European social partners’ autonomy.

Since 1998, the Commission has created over 40 sectoral social dialogue committees. They cover some 150 million workers in the EU in sectors such as different modes of transport, agriculture, construction, commerce, public services, construction of machinery and equipment, hotels and restaurants, and banking.

The dialogue has led to agreement on around 900 texts of varying legal status.

For more information, see Sectoral social dialogue on the European Commission’s website.


* European social dialogue: discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint activities involving both sides of industry (employers and employees).


Commission Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998 on the establishment of Sectoral Dialogue Committees promoting the Dialogue between the social partners at European level (OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, pp. 27-28)

Successive amendments to Commission Decision 98/500/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission staff working document on the functioning and potential of European sectoral social dialogue (SEC(2010) 964 final of 22.7.2010).

last update 23.05.2016