On 03 October 2018, the eighth roundtable meeting of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) Capacity building project III took place in Copenhagen. EFEE, ETUCE, representatives of the ETUCE member organisation partner to this project, the Danish Union of Teachers (DLF), and from the Danish Teachers’ Trade Unions (DLi) and the Teachers’ Association of Upper Secondary Schools (GL) met with school leader representatives from Danish Colleges and the Danish Association of School Leaders to address educational challenges and opportunities both at national and at European level. The ETUCE member organisation, Lärarförbundet from Sweden, and representatives from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions were invited to share experiences. Participants discussed how social dialogue is key to enhance the attractiveness of the teaching profession as well as the link between EU policy initiatives in the education field (European Semester on education and training) and the national policy making. Both themes are central in the ESSDE Work Programme 2018-2019.

Danish representatives shared views on improving teachers’ retainment in education, given how teachers’ feelings of being valued diminished. Social dialogue challenges, education budgetary cuts, teachers’ burdensome administrative workloads, deteriorating autonomy, and increased micro-management from political and administrative authorities were the Danish and European social partners’ discussed pressures affecting the profession. Participants’ experiences contributed to launching fruitful discussions on the necessity of trust and ownership between all the partners.

Representatives from the European Commission and the University kicked off a debate on the role of the European Pillar of Social Right in making the European Semester process more social, where social partners’ capacity to be involved in the European Semester is central to regain ownership of reforms and for their effective implementation. This emboldened participants to request concrete examples of how to contribute to the European Semester process, revealing an increased interest in communicating with EU institutions.

In thanking participants for the fruitful debate, Susan Flocken, European Director of ETUCE, stated that: “The attractiveness of the teaching profession is a common issue across many European countries, and it represents only one of the challenges that are to be addressed through social dialogue. The European social dialogue complements and supports the national social dialogue, and both ETUCE and EFEE are aware that only better knowledge about the situation in each country can help us tailor our work at European level.