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International Employment and Social Policy

Against the backdrop of a strongly interconnected international community, labour and social policy questions are becoming more important internationally, too. The international work of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs aims to exchange experiences with international partners and to manage globalisation in accordance with social principles.

Germany is not the only country confronted with challenges such as demographic change, the labour market integration of migrants or a lack of skilled labour. Many of our key labour and social policy issues are also high on other countries' agendas. At both the political and the working levels, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs thus keeps in close touch with other ministries, public authorities and social partners from its partner countries - within Europe and around the world.

In our globalised world, global trade and the international division of labour give rise to a number of challenges that Germany can only address together with its international partners. The COVID-19 pandemic with its impact on labour markets and worldwide income protection has again highlighted this point. 

The leading advanced economies have a special responsibility for social standards such as occupational safety and health and social protection in global supply chains.

Examples of the international topics our ministry is advancing:

  • strengthening social protection and expanding it to include all people,
  • promoting a social dialogue between employers and workers (we call them the social partners),
  • creating and safeguarding jobs,
  • implementing the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), especially the fundamental principles and rights at work (ILO core labour standards),
  • fostering corporate social responsibility (CSR) and
  • keeping the social and employment policy demands outlined above on the agenda in the global fiscal and economic policy context.

On the one hand, international cooperation in the field of labour and social policy takes place bilaterally, meaning that two partners exchange expertise or negotiate an agreement. Examples of important bilateral meetings include intergovernmental consultations between two countries, during which the cabinets of both countries hold joint meetings. Moreover, delegations from various ministries meet with their international colleagues to discuss a broad range of issues. Each year our ministry welcomes numerous delegations from abroad and answers a great number of requests for information submitted by ministries, institutions and individuals from abroad.

In addition, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is involved in key multilateral formats such as the G7/G20. Our ministry also works together closely with international organisations and bodies such as the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Within the Federal Government, we are the lead ministry in charge of cooperation with the ILO. For more information on the ILO, the UN, the OECD, the OSCE and the Council of Europe click here.

Our ministry is already engaged in substantive preparations for the German G7 presidency in 2022. Since Germany’s G7 presidency in 2015, our ministry has put a special focus on the following issue: Together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development we have put the topic “Standards in supply chains: promoting decent work worldwide” on the agenda. At their summit meeting in Elmau in June 2015, the G7 leaders included this topic in their final communiqué. A number of concrete projects are now underway to bring about concrete improvements in the production countries and to advance this issue even further internationally.

Further Information