The study looks at the articulation and the complex multi-level links between European and national levels of social dialogue. It examines the factors that facilitate as well as those that hinder the successful engagement of national social partners and their ability to promote their own interests effectively. It highlights the need to overcome some gaps in coordination, resources and capacities, particularly in those countries with underdeveloped structures of bilateral social dialogue at sectoral level linking to European-level social dialogue. The findings show that what is needed is a longer-term perspective on the multi-level governance of employment within the EU, one that would foster institution-building within sectoral social dialogue. Based on case studies and interviews with trade unions and employer organisations, the study illustrates that well-functioning national social dialogue is a key driver of positive and effective cooperation between all levels.