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The European banking sector has engaged in European social dialogue since 1990, first of all informally (1990-1999), and latterly on a formal footing within a SSDC. Only six joint texts have been adopted during those twenty years, and that achievement was confined to the period 1998-2005. Just one of these six documents constitutes a first-level reciprocal commitment: the 2005 recommendation on corporate social responsibility, although its follow-up procedures appear particularly weak.

Compared with other sectors, therefore, social dialogue in the banking sector would seem to be arduous and its implementation slow. The main topics addressed have been work organisation, employability, vocational training and – with rather more difficulty – corporate social responsibility. Unlike in other sectors, the 2008-2009 financial crisis does not yet seem to have bolstered debate and negotiations between the European social partners.

Generally speaking, the European social dialogue would still appear to be in need of a specific European-level driving-force. The social partners agree that they would not wish European collective bargaining to replace national collective bargaining. As A. Holm Mikkelsen points out, one of the main challenges under these circumstances is how, in the context of sectoral social dialogue, to engage in activities that are relevant to the national participants in industrial relations. Both the employers and the unions seem to be torn between their desire to do valuable work that is useful to the national social partners and their fear of jeopardising the outcomes of national or local social dialogue.

ETUI and Observatoire Social Européen (2010) European Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets. Project coordinated by Christophe Degryse, online publication available at www.worker-participation.eu/EU-Social-Dialogue/Sectoral-ESD