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Social Partnerships

Guideline Principles on their Establishment and Operation
Within the European Union (EU)

Recalling (1) that direct and meaningful consultation with people, partnership between all sectors of society, consensus, transparency, institutional openness, and political accountability, are essential elements in Social Wellbeing - a Social Partnership is a collective of groups and individuals, i.e. the social partners, business, industry, civil society and experts, which acts as a 'catalyst' in enhancing and broadening implementation in an area of human and/or social policy. Set out below are a number of guideline principles which should be actively considered as a basis for their establishment and operation within the European Union ........

    1. Common Aim, Agenda & Objectives of a Social Partnership

      Although of a voluntary and self-organizing nature, specific commitments should be made by partnership participants to co-operate together around a common aim, agenda, and a set of objectives with targets ; these core elements should evolve over time.

    2. Respect for International Law, Peace & European Values

      A respect for International Law, Peace and European Values - Human Dignity, Human & Social Rights, Equal Opportunity, Social Justice & Solidarity, Sustainable Human & Social Development - should underpin all partnership activities.

    3. Vertical Co-Ordination of Activities

      Mobilizing latent social capacity for translating policy into tangible results, partnerships should act in accordance with E.U. Law ; they are supplementary to, and not a surrogate for, Institutional competences at Union, Member State, regional and local levels.

    4. Horizontal Integration of Outcomes

      Partnerships should coherently integrate 'social', 'economic', 'environmental', 'institutional' and 'political' aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development in all outcomes.

    5. Multi-Sectoral & Multi-Disciplinary Participation (2)

      Partnerships should adopt a widely multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach, and should proactively involve significant actors within the boundary of its remit - in order to more readily achieve a 'balanced' horizontal integration, and a timely realization, of outcomes.

    6. Openness, Transparency & Accountability (2)

      Partnerships should be operated in an open, transparent and accountable manner - and in good faith, so that ownership of the partnership process and its outcomes are shared equally by all participants ; its activities should be accessible to the public.

    7. Effectiveness & Coherence (2)

      Partnership performance, outcome coherence and implementation effectiveness should be regularly reviewed against objectives, targets, and overall impact on the common aim.

    8. Funding Arrangements

      Funding arrangements for partnerships should be clearly identified, should not give rise to conflicts of interest, and should be accessible to the public.

    9. Freshness & Self-Renewal

      Efforts should be made by participants to retain a spirit of freshness and self-renewal in a partnership ; new participants should be welcomed, and research given a high priority.

    10. Progress & Future Growth

      The operation of a partnership is an iterative process ; precise and accurate feedback from outcome implementation is essential for its progress and future growth.


    (1) See Appendix II of the European Charter on Sustainable Design & Construction (as updated), originally adopted in Dublin on 6th November 1998
    (2) See also EU Commission Communication COM(2002) 704 final - Brussels 2002-12-11


Updates to these Guideline Principles
December 2004 - EU Guideline Principles revised and updated
for International Application.
See Appendix V in the
2004 Rio Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing

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