A new social partner summit in Val Duchesse in 2024

In her State of the EU speech, the President of the Commission announced a new social partner summit in Val Duchesse in 2024.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her final State of the European Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday 13 September. This annual speech is an opportunity for the head of the European executive to take stock of her work and present the Commission's future priorities for the coming year.

Given next year's electoral deadline, many commentators have looked for (and apparently found) in the President's words hints of a bid for a new mandate.

But beyond these assumptions, the main topics that dominated her speech were the European Green Pact, competitiveness, digitalisation and artificial intelligence, migration and Ukraine. Although no major initiatives were announced, von der Leyen did reveal a number of new measures in these areas. She announced the opening of an investigation into Chinese subsidies to the electric vehicle sector, a legislative initiative to reduce EU reporting obligations for SMEs, the preparation by Mario Draghi of a report on European competitiveness, and a new strategic approach to EU-Africa relations.

Just as the issue of social dialogue has received particular attention during Ms von der Leyen's term of office (notably through the adoption of the adequate minimum wage directive), this theme is again present in Wednesday's speech. The head of the European executive indicated her willingness to call on the social partners to work out solutions to one of the main difficulties facing European industry: the skills and labour shortage. To this end, she announced that a new social partner summit would be held in Val Duchesse (Brussels) in 2024, in collaboration with the Belgian Council Presidency. This summit is intended to echo the first « Val Duchesse » meeting in 1985, instigated by the then President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, and which led to the emergence of European social dialogue. According to Ms von der Leyen, trade unions and employers must now help the Commission to find solutions to "labour market challenges ranging from skills and labour shortages to the new challenges posed by AI".