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International Employment and Social Policy

March 27, 2017

In a strongly interconnected global community, labour and social policy questions are becoming more important internationally. The international work of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs aims to exchange experiences with international partners and to steer globalization according to social principles.

Flags of several European countries.

Germany is not the only country confronted with challenges like 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 on other countries' agendas. At both the political and the working levels, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs therefore 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 which Germany can only solve together with its international partners. The leading advanced economies, for example, have a special responsibility for social standards such as occupational health and safety regulations and social protection in global supply chains. For more information go to our G7 priority area: "Decent work worldwide".

Here is what our ministry is working on at the international level:

  • 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, especially the fundamental principles and rights at work (ILO's core labour standards),
  • fostering corporate social responsibility (CSR) and
  • feeding the above-mentioned social and labour policy demands into global financial and economic policy debates, including at the G7/G20, ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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, bringing together the Chancellor and the various federal ministers and their counterparts from another country. Beyond these intergovernmental consultations, delegations from the various federal ministries meet with their international colleagues to discuss various issues. Our ministry alone welcomes more than 100 foreign delegations annually.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is also active in key multilateral formats, i.e. regular forums where several partners meet. Among them are the above-mentioned G7/G20 and ASEM. 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-coperation 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.

Since the German G7 Presidency in 2015, our ministry has been focusing on one area in particular. Together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we have put the topic of "Standards along supply chains: Promoting decent work worldwide" on the agenda. At their summit meeting in Elmau in June 2015, the G7 leaders incorporated this topic in their final communiqué. A number of specific projects have been launched in this area in order to bring about concrete improvements in the producer countries and to advance this issue even further internationally. For more information on this priority area click here.

So­cial Eu­rope and in­ter­na­tion­al Af­fairs

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs works at both European and international level to ensure social and employment policies that are responsive to people’s needs.