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Lars Magnusson and Sofia Murhem

This chapter reviews how the Social Dialogue between unions and employers has evolved at the EU level, and asks whether it has a role to play in bridging the growing prosperity gap between the member states. The analysis shows that the Social Dialogue has diminished in importance over the past twenty years. The authors see several reasons to put a stop to this trend. Over the long run, they contend, a strong Social Dialogue can increase citizen support for the Union and strengthen its legitimacy. Through central agreements between the social partners, the European industry and labour market can develop in a way that benefits both sides. Thus the authors conclude that policy-makers ought to promote the Social Dialogue, as an important tool for reducing the prosperity gap between the member states, enhancing the legitimacy of the EU as a whole, encouraging labour mobility, and combatting xenophobia.