The Social Protocol with its Agreement on Social Policy was annexed to the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty), which was ratified by eleven of twelve member states in 1993 (the UK secured an opt-out). The protocol had two main elements. It extended qualified majority voting and introduced a mandatory consultation process to draw the social partners more fully into European policymaking. Central to the latter is provision of a negotiation track through which the social partners can negotiate the content of European directives. In 1997, the newly elected Labour government accepted the Social Protocol and its elements have since been confirmed by all member states and incorporated in the social chapter (Articles 117–19) of the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997.
Subjects: Human Resource Management.