On 5 April 2016, the joint European social partnership project on social dialogue capacity building brought together ETUCE’s Spanish member organisations with representatives from the Spanish education Ministry as well as from several education employers’ organisations. The round table meeting with its balanced participant structure was held in good atmosphere and proved efficient. Both ETUCE and EFEE were satisfied with the results of this first joint meeting in Spain.

Participants used the opportunity not only to gain new information about the current education social dialogue at European level but also to assess the present state of their own social dialogue situation. The very lively and open debate touched upon many current challenges to education in Spain such as on the severe impact of the economic and financial crisis on quality education, the economic situation of teachers but also on social dialogue development. The building of mutual trust between social partners was emphasized throughout the meeting as an essential precondition for a successful social partnership. The successfully implemented meeting has surely helped to take one further step in this direction which should be followed up on.

Detailed presentations on social dialogue at different levels supported the useful exchange of experience and best practice during the day. Two presentations prepared by the Irish education social partners through a video conference call were particularly appreciated as they stimulated the discussion from a different perspective. They provided participants with a very interesting insight into the development and current state of social partnership in Irish education. Carlos López Cortiñas, General Secretary of the Federation of Education of FETE-UGT and Spanish partner in the project, illustrated clearly the complexity of the Spanish situation where decisions are made both at national and a strong regional level and where collective bargaining takes place in two different sectors namely in the public sector with a share of about 70% and in the private sector with a share of about 30%. Ángel de Miguel Casas, General Director for Professional Education at the Education Ministry stressed that times were tough but he also considered the opportunities offered in such situation which have been difficult for most sectors. He reminded participants that social dialogue was not a one-off matter but a continuous process.

Both, ETUCE and EFEE expressed their hope for improved and consolidated partnership relations as well as greater involvement of the Spanish social partners in the European education social dialogue (ESSDE). In the meantime, the two organisations continue to work on the further integration process of the ESSDE. The next joint round table meeting on social dialogue is going to be held in Riga at the end of April 2016.