Social Dialogue and co-determination in the area of Social Security
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Social Dialogue and co-determination in the area of Social Security by Prof. Dr. Heinz-Dietrich Steinmeyer. Introduction. Social Dialogue has a long tradition in Europe and even a longer tradition in Germany Already in the 1950s first efforts on the EEC level

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Social Dialogue and co-determination in the area of Social SecuritybyProf. Dr. Heinz-Dietrich Steinmeyer

Introduction Security

  • Social Dialogue has a long tradition in Europe and even a longer tradition in Germany

  • Already in the 1950s first efforts on the EEC level

  • Since then further developed by EEC and EU

  • Influence of social partners on politics and legislation of EU (European Social Committee)

  • Some form of institutionalised social dialogue in most EU countries

Introduction Security

  • In Germany in addition:

    - special tradition of co-determination and co-decision

    - result mainly of social and economic catastrophy at the end of World War II

    - to be found

    in business (Works Council, Co-

    determination on company level)

    in social security (self-administration of


    in politics - more or less informal and

    on a consultative basis

Introduction Security

  • Therefore to be distinguished between

    - tripartite social dialogue in the areas

    of social policy and economic policy

    - bipartite social dialogue and

    negotiations between unions and


    - bipartite or tripartite dialogue or co-

    determination in social security

Eu level
EU Level Security

  • Social Dialogue in the sense of the EC Treaty:

    All forms of contacts concerning social issues between employees, employers and other people and institutions concerned or involved

    Official EU papers call social dialogue the center of the European social model

Eu level1
EU level Security

  • Generally in all cases of European legislation concerning the area of social policy the social partners are involved; they will be asked for comments in a very early stage

  • In EU Law also an institutionalised form of social dialogue – the Economic and Social Committee; is involved in the legislative process

    - consisting currently of 344 members from member states

    – certain number per country.

    - tripartite in another way:

    - employers/business

    - trade unions

    - „various interests“ – self-employed,

    consumers etc.

    - Mandatory consultative involvement

Eu level2
EU level Security

Social partners

under EU Law they even have a quasi-legislative role; they can agree on a directive and this will then put into EU law by European Council and European Parliament. The EU legislators may take it or leave it, i.e. they cannot be forced to accept it but they either may accept it as it is or reject it – but the final decision is still with the legislators

Consultative bodies im european countries
Consultative bodies im European countries Security

  • In a great number of European countries there are consulting bodies on the national level

  • Old and famous example:

    The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands

    Main advisory body to the Dutch government and parliament on national and international social and economic policy

    - 11 representatives of employers

    - 11 representatives of employees

    - 11 independent experts (selected by government)


    - consult the government and parliament

    - executing certain laws

    - certain supervisory functions

Consultative bodies in european countries
Consultative bodies in European Countries Security

  • In France: Conseil Économique et Social (CES)

    - Advisory Assembly of 231 members

    - nine departments (among others

    Social Affairs and Labour)

    - in certain cases consultation process


    - Composed of 18 representative groups

    - among others trade unions, enterprises,

    farmers etc.

    - Manadatory referral

    - Consultation on its own initiative

    - 68 members appointed by government – the rest sent by the representative groups

Consultative bodies in european countries1
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • In Spain: Economic and Social Council

    - Consisting of 60 members

    1/3 Trade unions

    1/3 Employers associations

    1/3 other organisations plus 6


    mostly designated by the groups but

    appointed by government

    - Functions – close to the French model

Consultative bodies in european countries2
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • Tripartite system in Romania CES

    - 9 members appointed by government

    - 9 members trade unions

    - 9 members employers associations

Consultative bodies in european countries3
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • Portugal – interesting combination of

    - general CES (Conselho Económico e

    Social) with delegates of the most

    representative organizations in

    society and economy and

    - a tripartite consultative body on

    social policy = Permanent Committee

    for Social Dialogue – involving social

    welfare policies with 4 representatives of

    the government, 4 of employer´s confederations

    and 4 of worker´s confederations

Consultative bodies in european countries4
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • Austria – is a special case – similar to Germany

  • But with a more complex structure

    - There are three chambers

    - the Federal Economic Chamber

    - the Federal Chamber of Labour

    - the Chamber of Agriculture

    - In addition there is an Advisory

    Council for Economic and Social Affairs

    - and – last but not least – social partners maintain

    representatives in the social insurance institutions

    – organised as self- administering entities under

    public law

Consultative bodies in european countries5
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • The Federal (and Province) Chamber of Labour

    - all employees are members

    - in each Austrian province a General

    Assembly is elected – like parliamentary elections

    - Participation in the legislative process

    by consultation

    - Services for members – among

    others legal assistance in labour law


  • The Federal Economic Chamber

    - covering the business community

Consultative bodies in european countries6
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

  • Representatives in the Social Security system

    - system is run by the social partners

    - state is limited to supervision

Consultative bodies in european countries7
Consultative bodies in European countries Security


  • All institutions only consultative

  • To be seen in most European countries

    - except United Kingdom – no wonder

    - and – strange enough – Germany

    3. Usually representing the social partners

    4. Sometimes also additional interests

    5. Therefore usually the view of them

    6. Very often not tripartite and if so – usually not joint official statements but presenting views.

Consultative bodies in european countries8
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

7. Advantages:

- corporatism results in negotiations and may produce more adequate results

- consensual solutions avoid conflicts and collective labour disputes

- Dutch experience with „Poldermodel“:

– „All in all I´d say we are fairly happy

with the council and it is an enrichment

of our society“

Consultative bodies in european countries9
Consultative bodies in European countries Security

8. Disadvantages

- very often old boys network

- those who are represented have

influence – the others not

- slows down legislative process

- good ideas may end in bad


- Quoting Austrians „we have peace

but we are always behind“

- Interests are not always really


Germany Security

  • Why no such institutions in Germany?

    - one major trade union system, i.e. vast

    majority are in trade unions organised in

    DGB (German Trade Union Association) –

    representative body was there

    - same applies in case of employers


    - in practice government consults them in

    any legislation affecting their interests

    - Criticism:

    - mostly like concerning the other countries

    - unions loose membership – representative?

    - follow special interests

    – for example against increasing retirement age to 67

    - argument: represent those who have work and not those

    who need work (unemployed)

Germany Security

  • And – the special story in Germany is

    Self-administration in social security

    All institutions are autonomous legal entities

    All are run by executives elected by a self-governing body – usually an assembly of the insured and the employers – equal numbers

    The assemblies as such are elected in „Social Elections“ every four years

Germany Security

  • Social Elections (Sozialwahl) mean that

    - employees and

    - employers

    may elect representatives for an assembly called „Verwaltungsrat“ (Administrative Assembly)

    The employers usually send in one list

    – practically no election

    The employee´s side – usually list election – competing trade unions and other organisations – sometimes no election like in case of employers

Germany Security

  • Function and role

    - social insurance institutions have a certain autonomy

    - in detail depends on the area of

    social insurance

    in pension insurance very limited

    decision on budget within limits

    in health insurance considerably

    - fixing the contribution rate

    - decision on budget

    - negotiating prices and services with

    health care providers

    - involved in fixing of prices for


    - competing with each other

Germany Security

in industrial accident insurance

- determining contribution rules

- negotiating with providers

- issuing regulations for the

prevention of accidents

- decisions on organisation and

re-organisation within the limits

set by law

in unemployment insurance

- tripartite bodies

- setting rules for executing laws

Germany Security

  • Unofficial function:

    - institutionalized interests

    - providing expertise

  • Reforms in pension insurance strongly influenced by expertise of administrations and its officials

  • Ongoing reforms in industrial accident insurance

    - strong resistance against organisational

    reform trying to modernise the system –

    from 19th century to 21st century

    - trying to keep institutions as they are

  • Reforms in health insurance – usually a fight of government against institutionalised and organised interests – funds, physicians etc.

Germany Security

  • Advantages and disadvantages

    1. Those affected and finance the

    system have influence

    2. Perception – this is my system

    3. But „social elections“ do not really

    function – people do not know why

    to vote

    4. Members of the assemblies not always

    very engaged – just another honorary

    post; members of the assembly

    sometimes unprofessional

Conclusion Security

  • Nobody – and nothing – is perfect

  • Almost everything has pros and cons

  • Provides more social peace

  • Might ease legislative process

  • Increases affection towards the system

  • Parliament and government do not have to fix all details

  • Certain kind of division of power