Main messages from the Tripartite Social Summit

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

EU leaders and social partners met, via video conference, at the Tripartite Social Summit to discuss “transforming Europe’s recovery into long-term sustainable growth supporting more and better jobs”. The summit participants intervened on the following questions:

  • how to achieve a successful, lasting and socially fair recovery and social partners’ role in national recovery and resilience plans?
  • how to succeed on the twin climate and digital transitions while staying prosperous, competitive and socially just?
  • how to ensure sustainable work (including skills, active labour market policies, social security systems)?

The President of the European CommissionUrsula von der Leyen said: “People need the right skills to adapt to changing career paths and find new jobs in an evolving labour market. This is all the more critical if we are to achieve a fair, sustainable and inclusive transition to a green and digital economy. We are now at a decisive moment: thanks to NextGenerationEU, we will have crucial reforms and unprecedented investments into education, training, employment and social protection measures. Now more than ever, social partners have a central role to play for a successful implementation of the national plans and a recovery that leaves no one behind.”

The President of the European Council Charles Michel commented: “As we continue our recovery, we need to stay laser-focused on the type of future we want – for our people, our economies, and our societies. For long-term, sustainable growth that creates more and better jobs, we need to invest in skills and implement active labour market policies. So how we recover will depend on how investments and reforms contribute to a competitive and socially just transition. We want a collective, inclusive and cohesive recovery. Social partners have a crucial role in this respect. Their input has been – and will continue to be – pivotal for our recovery efforts. Our massive recovery package, approved by the European Council in July 2020, will drive forward these efforts.”

From the side of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša added: “This summit confirms Europe’s principle that social dialogue is one of the fundamental values ​​of the European Union and of Member States. In the context of the commitment to strengthen the EU’s social dimension, the Slovenian Presidency emphasises the importance of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Its second EU headline target that at least 60% of adults should attend training programmes each year is particularly important. Lifelong learning is what can ensure that, as individuals and as Europeans, we have the necessary competences and knowledge to ensure that both the green and digital transitions, even during the post-pandemic recovery, take place in a society that is able to face the challenges of the future in a sustainable way. In all these recovery efforts EU institutions need to have in mind that no one should be left behind. Let all our future efforts go in this direction.”

The General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Luca Visentini, noted: “We cannot say the pandemic crisis is over, but we are emerging from the worst of it. Governments and the EU made an unprecedented effort to save jobs and businesses and for recovery. The way to destroy those efforts would be to return to austerity like after the last crisis. The EU’s debt and deficit rules must be revised and economic policy must be driven by social needs. Climate and digital transitions will be a failure if they leave people and communities behind. We need unprecedented investment in climate action, in digitalisation, in care and services, and in our children’s future; a socially just transition which is not just about skills, but investment and anticipation of change; and a renewed Social Contract with decent wages, workers’ rights including in platforms and non-standard work, universal and adequate social protection, strengthened social dialogue and collective bargaining.”

BusinessEurope’s President Pierre Gattaz, representing employers (BusinessEurope, SGI Europe, SMEunited), commented: “As the EU emerges from the pandemic, the European Council should focus on how to transform Europe’s recovery into lasting growth, inclusive prosperity and employment. Europe is moving towards operationalising its climate and digital ambitions, with opportunities but also very concrete challenges for small, medium and large enterprises, as well as services of general interest, who are faced with rising energy and raw material prices, shortages of microchips, lack of skilled workers, financing investments and innovation etc. They need to be rapidly addressed if we want to remain competitive and keep pace with other global players. Unfortunately, there is not enough focus on bringing forward the necessary reforms to get a lasting recovery. The role of social partners has been crucial for the EU and Member States to design the labour market and social response to the Covid crisis. However, they were not properly consulted during the preparation of national recovery and resilience plans. Involving them is all the more important in the implementation phase.”


The Tripartite Social Summit takes place twice a year ahead of European Council meetings. It is co-chaired by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and attended by the Head of State or Government representing the Presidency of the Council of the EU. It is an opportunity for a constructive exchange of views between the leaders of the European institutions with the leaders of European social partners and national employee and employer organisations of the current and upcoming Presidency countries (Slovenia, France and Czechia), and the Employment and Social Affairs Ministers of these Presidency countries.

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