Category Archives: Community employment policies

The European Union’s work contributes to reducing rates of unemployment and improving the quality of jobs, in particular through the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs. In the context of the international financial crisis, additional measures have been taken to protect existing jobs and to create new opportunities.

Each year, more than EUR 10 billion are invested through the European Social Fund (ESF) to improve job prospects for the population. Projects, co-financed by Member States, support companies in adapting to developments in the economic and social situation. They promote access to lifelong learning and training in order to develop workers’ skills.

Community employment policies

Community employment policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community employment policies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Community employment policies

The European Union’s work contributes to reducing rates of unemployment and improving the quality of jobs, in particular through the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs. In the context of the international financial crisis, additional measures have been taken to protect existing jobs and to create new opportunities.

Each year, more than EUR 10 billion are invested through the European Social Fund (ESF) to improve job prospects for the population. Projects, co-financed by Member States, support companies in adapting to developments in the economic and social situation. They promote access to lifelong learning and training in order to develop workers’ skills.

PARTNERSHIP FOR GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT

  • Guidelines for employment policies
  • European Commitment for Employment
  • Driving European recovery
  • The Community Lisbon Programme: proposal for 2008–2010
  • Strategic report on the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: new cycle 2008-2010
  • A new start for the Lisbon Strategy (2005)
  • The European Social Fund (2007-2013)
  • Employment policy guidelines (2008-2010)
  • Employment policy guidelines (2005-2008)
  • Promoting corporate social responsibility
  • Towards common principles of flexicurity

THE EUROPEAN EMPLOYMENT STRATEGY (EES): 1997-2005

  • The Lisbon Special European Council (March 2000): Towards a Europe of Innovation and Knowledge
  • Council Recommendation on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (2004)
  • The employment policy guidelines (2003-2005)
  • Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy (2003)
  • Streamlining of annual economic and employment policy coordination cycles
  • Taking stock of five years of the EES: mid-term review (2002)
  • European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy
  • The birth of the European Employment Strategy: the Luxembourg process (November 1997)
  • Joint employment report 2006/2007
  • Joint Employment Report 2005/2006
  • Joint Employment Report 2004/2005

COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT POLICY INSTRUMENTS

  • European Union Programme for Social Change and Innovation (2014-2020) (Proposal)
  • Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS (2007-2013)
  • European Progress Microfinance Facility (EPMF)
  • EURES: the European Employment and Job Mobility Network
  • EUROPASS – Serving citizen mobility
  • Programme for mutual learning in employment
  • European Employment Observatory (EEO)
  • Employment Committee

OTHER CHALLENGES IN THE FIELD OF EMPLOYMENT POLICIES

Quality of employment

  • Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress (November 2003)

Miscellaneous

  • Youth employment: opportunities
  • New skills for new jobs
  • A European initiative for growth
  • Restructuring and employment: the role of the European Union in anticipating and accompanying restructuring in order to develop employment
  • Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy

European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy

This communication aligns the priorities of the European Social Fund (ESF), a financial instrument used to promote regional cohesion, with those of the European Employment Strategy (EES). It explains how the financial instrument supports the four main objectives for the improvement of the labour market in the European Union and underpins the commitments made by the Member States in their National Action Plans for employment.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 16 January 2001 on European Social Fund support for the European Employment Strategy [COM(2001) 16 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Regulation No 1784/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 redefined the priorities of the ESF proposed in Agenda 2000 and introduced the ESF programmes for the period 2000-2006. This communication explains how these priorities must be integrated into the objectives of the European Employment Strategy (EES).

It broadens the scope of the ESF, which ceases to be a training programme and becomes a strategic tool encompassing a wide range of measures for investment in human resources, acknowledged as the main driving force for economic growth. The ESF aims to coordinate national labour market policies in order to make them more effective and place the emphasis on job creation. The programmes focus on preventive measures, equal opportunities, social integration and access to information and communication technologies (ICT).

EUR 60 billion are allocated to the ESF for measures relating to the European Employment Strategy (EES) for the period 2000-2006.

The European Employment Strategy highlights four major areas: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities. Under Objectives 1 and 3, the ESF will support these areas in the following way:

  • Employability: about 60% of the European Social Fund’s budget (EUR 34 billion) will be devoted to improving employability throughout the European Union. One third of this sum, i.e. almost EUR 11 billion, is set aside for combating social exclusion.
  • Entrepreneurship: this will receive EUR 8 billion from the ESF, which will provide the necessary stimulus for new businesses and job creation in the services sector.
  • Adaptability: almost EUR 11 billion will be invested in promoting the adaptability of Europe’s working population, the main priorities being the development of continuing training, the use of ICT and activities for SMEs.
  • Equal opportunities: on account of the mainstreaming of equal opportunities throughout the EES, it is not possible to state the precise sum set aside for this pillar. However, the budget allocated to specific measures amounts to some EUR 4 billion.

In order to facilitate flexibility with regard to national priorities, the distribution of appropriations between the four pillars shows significant variations from one Member State to another.

The communication also shows how the ESF supports the National Action Plans (NAPs) in order to provide a springboard into the labour market rather than a safety-net and to act as catalyst for national policies on equal opportunities.

The participation of the EU candidate countries in the EES is a major priority. It is a question of identifying the priority areas where progress has to be made and showing how the Phare programme can provide its financial support. This programme supports projects in the field of employment and human resources development under its main strand Strengthening of institutional capacities and the specific action Economic and social cohesion. The special programme of preparation for the Structural Funds gives the candidate countries the resources to manage efficiently the appropriations granted by the Structural Funds.

The Commission is also improving the implementation of each programme through appropriate monitoring and evaluation and taking more account of the regional and local dimensions. It also has to coordinate the investments of the ESF and the other Structural Funds and consult the social partners, NGOs and other interested parties.

For the figures on ESF assistance between 2000 and 2006 and the country fiches, please consult the annexes to this communication, which also shows the measures taken between 1994 and 1999 and the ESF commitments for 2000-2006.

The publication of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities entitled The European Social Fund in action 2000-2006presents the success stories supported by the ESF in the fields of active labour market measures, social inclusion, lifelong learning, adaptability and the participation of women.

The birth of the European Employment Strategy: the Luxembourg process

The birth of the European Employment Strategy: the Luxembourg process

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The birth of the European Employment Strategy: the Luxembourg process

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

The birth of the European Employment Strategy: the Luxembourg process (November 1997)

After inclusion of the new title “Employment” in the Treaty on European Union (EU), the Heads of State and Government launched a European Employment Strategy (EES) at the Luxembourg Jobs Summit with a view to coordinating national employment policies. The EES aims to improve employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities at the level of the European labour market.

Cooperation in the matter of employment before 1997

Full employment has always been one of the Community’s objectives, already enshrined in the Treaty of Rome. Since these beginnings, the European Social Fund (ESF) has been used an instrument to promote employment and worker mobility.

In the early 1990s, cooperation between Member States mainly took the form of traditional collaboration between governments within international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) — multilateral European and international cooperation platforms — notably as regards the labour market.

The structural problems and the macroeconomic difficulties of the 1990s demonstrated the need for a coordinated response at European level. The Delors White Paper of 1993 on growth, competitiveness and employment was the first step towards genuine cooperation at European level. On the basis of this document the Essen European Council identified five key objectives to which the Member States were committed: the development of human resources through vocational training; the promotion of productive investments through moderate wage policies; the improvement of the efficiency of labour market institutions; the identification of new sources of jobs through local initiatives; and promotion of access to the world of work for some specific target groups such as young people, long-term unemployed and women. However, these objectives, which are at the heart of the Essen Strategy, were difficult to realise without a firm commitment on the part of the Member States.

Hence the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 included a new chapter on employment which, while safeguarding the powers of the Member States in the field of employment policy, enshrines the Community approach in an overall manner for all Member States and focuses on a coordinated employment strategy. The promotion of a skilled labour force and a labour market which is more responsive to economic change becomes a “matter of common interest”. The Treaty also creates the legal basis for the establishment of an Employment Committee and introduces the qualified majority vote in areas relating to employment, which facilitates decision making.

The launching of the European Employment Strategy (EES)

The Luxembourg Jobs Summit in November 1997 anticipated the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty by launching the EES. The aim of the EES is to reduce unemployment significantly within five years at European level. The EES establishes a multilateral surveillance framework to encourage Member States to put into place effective policies, notably a joint annual report on employment and employment guidelines. These are the basis for the National Action Plans (NAPs) prepared by the Member States, and recommendations of the Council of Ministers to the different Member States (see the instruments of the EES).

The EES aims at strengthening the coordination of national employment policies. Its main objective is to involve Member States in a series of common objectives and targets, focused on four pillars, namely employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities:

  • employability: combating long-term unemployment and youth unemployment, modernising education and training systems, active monitoring of the unemployed by offering them a new start in the field of training or employment (before reaching six months of unemployment for every unemployed young person and 12 months for every unemployed adult), reducing the numbers dropping out of the education system early by 50% and deciding on a framework agreement between employers and the social partners on how to open workplaces across Europe for training and work practice;
  • entrepreneurship: establishing clear, stable and predictable rules concerning the start-up and running of businesses and the simplification of administrative burdens on small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The strategy proposes significantly reducing the overhead costs for enterprises of hiring an additional worker, facilitating easier transition to self-employment and the setting up of micro-enterprises, the development of the markets for venture capital in order to facilitate the financing of SMEs, and the reduction of tax burdens on employment before 2000;
  • adaptability: modernising work organisation and flexibility of working arrangements and putting in place of a framework for more adaptable forms of contracts, renewal of skill levels within enterprises by removing fiscal barriers and mobilisation of State aid policies on upgrading the labour force, creation of sustainable jobs and efficiently functioning labour markets;
  • equal opportunities: combating the gender gap and supporting the increased employment of women, by implementing policies on career breaks, parental leave, part-time work, and good quality care for children. The EES also proposes that Member States facilitate return to work, in particular for women.

The EES introduces a new working method, “the Open Method of Coordination (OMC)”. This system creates a balance between the responsibility of the Community and that of the Member States (the subsidiarity principle), establishes quantified common targets to be achieved at Community level, and puts into place Community-level surveillance encouraged by pooling experience. The OMC facilitates policy debates at different levels followed by an integrated approach: actions taken in the field of employment must be consistent with related fields such as social policy, education, the tax system, enterprise and regional development.

The objective laid down by the Lisbon Council of March 2000 was to make Europe “the most competitive and most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth accompanied by quantitative and qualitative improvement of employment and greater social cohesion” within ten years. The EES is a key component of this global strategy. In March 2002 the Barcelona European Council also called for reinforcement of the EES as an instrument of the Lisbon strategy in an enlarged Europe.

For further details, consult the pages devoted to the Luxembourg Jobs Summit and the site of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities concerning the EES, and the Lisbon Strategy site.

The employment policy guidelines

The employment policy guidelines

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The employment policy guidelines

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

The employment policy guidelines (2003-2005)

The employment guidelines 2003 lay down the priorities for structural reforms to be implemented in order to achieve the main economic objectives of the European Union (EU). For the first time, the EU relied on streamlined key policy coordination instruments — the broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs), the employment guidelines, and the internal market strategy — which it gives a new three-year perspective.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision of 22 July 2003 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

Summary

The decision invites the Member States to conduct their employment policies with a view to implementing the objectives and progressing towards the targets specified in the broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) and the internal market strategy. All these policies, applied in the medium term (three years), are part of the ten-year comprehensive strategy established at the Lisbon European Council in 2000 and revised in 2005. In the framework of the revision for 2005, the Commission presented a new proposal for a decision on the employment guidelines which will take effect as from 2006. In this decision the Council of Ministers invites the Member States to apply a macroeconomic policy with the focus on stability and growth, comprising a strict budgetary policy and a moderate growth in wages negotiated with the social partners.

The employment guidelines 2003-2005 reinforce the policy of growth by structural reform with a view to creating more and better jobs. The Council of Ministers accompanies these guidelines with recommendations addressed to all Member States concerning the most serious and urgent reforms. The employment guidelines require a gender-mainstreaming approach in implementing all actions. The decision is based on the conclusions of the Commission’s communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy (EES) which aims to integrate the main points of the Lisbon strategy in the EES and to simplify and clarify its policy priorities.

Main objectives

The European Union (EU) lays down the main objectives in the field of employment, viz.:

  • full employment. The Council wishes to achieve an overall employment rate of 67 % in 2005 and 70 % in 2010, an employment rate for women of 57 % in 2005 and 60 % in 2010, and an employment rate of 50 % for older workers (55 to 64) in 2010;
  • improving quality and productivity at work. This objective encompasses a wide range of areas, in particular intrinsic quality at work, skills, lifelong learning and career development, gender equality, health and safety at work, flexibility and security, inclusion and access to the labour market, work organisation and work-life balance, social dialogue and worker involvement, diversity and non-discrimination, and overall work performance;
  • strengthening social cohesion and inclusion. In the framework of the open method of coordination, national employment policies should promote access to employment for all women and men; combat discrimination on the labour market and prevent the exclusion of people from the world of work.

The main priorities of the structural reforms (‘the 10 commandments’)

In order to achieve the overarching objectives, the Council invites the Member States to implement structural reforms comprising:

  • active and preventative measures for the unemployed and inactive such as ensuring that, at an early stage of their unemployment spell, all jobseekers benefit from an early identification of their needs and from services such as advice and guidance, job search assistance, a job, or other employability measure (before reaching six months of unemployment in the case of young people and 12 months of unemployment in the case of adults), modernising labour market institutions, and ensuring regular evaluation of the programmes. The Member States must include, by 2010, 25 % of the long-term unemployed in an active measure in the form of training, retraining, work practice, or other employability measure, with the aim of achieving the average of the three most advanced Member States;
  • job creation and entrepreneurship with particular attention to exploiting the job creation potential of new enterprises, of the service sector and of R & D. It is also a matter of simplifying and reducing administrative and regulatory burdens for business start-ups and SMEs and for the hiring of staff, facilitating access to capital and promoting education and training in entrepreneurial and management skills;
  • promotion of adaptability and mobility, social dialogue and corporate social responsibility with a view to diversifying contractual and working arrangements, and to creating a better balance between work and private life and between flexibility and security. It is also a matter of encouraging access to training, improving conditions in terms of health and safety, productivity and the quality of work. The Member States will assure the anticipation and the positive management of economic change and restructuring and access to the labour market and training. They will address labour shortages and bottlenecks by promoting occupational and geographical mobility, by implementing the skills and mobility action plan, by improving the recognition of qualifications and by greater transparency of qualifications and competencies, the transferability of social security and pension rights, the taking into account of immigration, the transparency of employment opportunities, notably thanks to the European employment network, comprising all the vacancies advertised by the Member States’ employment services;
  • promotion of the development of human capital, education and lifelong learning to ensure that at least 85 % of 22-year olds in the European Union should have completed upper secondary education and that the European Union average level of participation in lifelong learning should be at least 12,5 % of the adult working-age population (25 to 64 age group). National policies will aim in particular to achieve an increase in investment in human resources and a significant increase in investment by enterprises in the training of adults;
  • promotion of active ageing thanks to improvement of working conditions, notably health and safety at work, access to vocational training, flexibility of work organisation, eliminating incentives for early exit from the labour market and early retirement. Member States will aim to achieve an increase by five years of the effective average exit age from the labour market (estimated at 59,9 in 2001). The increase in the labour force should also be associated with a comprehensive approach covering in particular the availability and attractiveness of jobs for all population age groups. Where necessary, the potential offered by immigration should be taken into account.
  • promotion of gender equality by reducing gender gaps in employment rates, unemployment rates and pay. The gender pay gap must be reduced by addressing sectoral and occupational segregation, job classifications and the different pay systems, and by improving transparency and access to education and training. It is also a matter of reconciling work and private life by increasing the number of childcare facilities so as to provide childcare by 2010 to at least 90% of children between three years and the mandatory school-leaving age and at least 33% of children under three years of age;
  • integration of and combating discrimination against people at a disadvantage on the labour market, notably early school leavers, low-skilled workers, people with disabilities, immigrants and ethnic minorities. The objective of the Member States will be to reduce by 2010 the proportion of early school leavers to 10% (maximum average for the EU) and to reduce the unemployment gaps for people at a disadvantage and for third country nationals, according to any national targets;
  • tax and financial incentives to enhance work attractiveness by reducing the number of working poor and, where appropriate, by eliminating unemployment, poverty and inactivity traps, and by encouraging participation in the labour market of disadvantaged groups by re-examining or reforming the tax and benefit systems. Member States will ensure effective management of social protection benefits, including the link with effective job search, support for employability, and, where appropriate, the elimination of inactivity traps. By 2010 they will reduce high marginal effective tax rates and, where appropriate, the tax burden on low paid workers;
  • transformation of undeclared work into regular employment by striking a balance between simplification of the business environment (appropriate incentives in the tax and benefits system) and the application of sanctions to ensure that the law is respected;
  • addressing regional employment disparities notably by developing the potential for job creation at the local level and partnerships between all relevant actors. The Member States will promote favourable conditions for private sector activity and investment and will focus public support on investment in human capital and the creation of suitable infrastructures (see also the BEPG guidelines 18 and 19), thanks mainly to the support of the Cohesion Fund, the Structural Funds and the European Investment Bank.

Implementation of the EES is a matter for the Member States. To ensure consistent management of this process, it is important to involve the national parliaments, the social partners and other national, regional and local bodies which are competent in the field of employment. The social partners will be involved in the effective implementation of the employment guidelines at national, interprofessional and sectoral level. Adequate allocation of financial resources will be ensured via transparency and cost-effectiveness as well as the sound use of financial support on the part of the Structural Funds, in particular the European Social Fund (ESF).

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision (EC) No°578/2003

22.07.2003

OJ L 197 of 05.08.2003

Related Acts

Council Decision of 4 October 2004 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. [Official Journal L 326 of 29.10.2004].
The guidelines defined in Council Decision No. 578/2003 have been maintained.

Council Decision of 18 February 2002 on guidelines for Member States’ employment policies for the year 2002. [Official Journal L 60 of 01.03.2002].
The most important innovation in 2002 was the introduction of a new horizontal objective relating to the quality of employment and the intermediate objectives adopted by the Stockholm European Council concerning the employment rates to be achieved in 2005 and included in successive guidelines.

Council Decision of 19 January 2001 on Guidelines for  [Official Journal L 60 of 01.03.2002].
This Decision introduces the new comprehensive employment policy strategy adopted at the Lisbon European Council, while keeping the original four pillar structure intact (entrepreneurship, employability, adaptability and equal opportunities). The Lisbon Summit aims to raise the employment rate from 62.2% in 1999 to 70% in 2010 (and to over 60% for women). The social partners are more closely involved in implementing and monitoring the employment guidelines. With an eye to consistency, common themes have been reclassified, for example in the case of the “employability” pillar, which includes the guidelines on education and lifelong learning. A stronger focus has also been placed on tackling discriminatory aspects of the labour market in order to reinforce the link with social inclusion. The provisions on older workers have been widened from the tax-benefit aspect to a more comprehensive set of policies in support of active ageing.

Council Decision (EC) No 2000/228 of 13 March 2000 on guidelines for  [Official Journal L 072 of 21.03.2000].

Council Recommendation on the implementation of Member States' employment policies

Council Recommendation on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Council Recommendation on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Council Recommendation on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (2004)

The recommendation sets out the priorities for the implementation of employment policies by the Member States and the social partners. It calls upon them inter alia to increase the adaptability of workers and enterprises; attract more people to the labour market and make work a real option for all; invest more, and more efficiently, in human capital and lifelong learning; and ensure effective implementation of reforms through better governance. For the first time, the Council recommendations are also addressed to the 10 new Member States of the European Union.

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation (EC) No 741/2004 of 14 October 2004 on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [Official Journal L 326 of 29.10.2004]

Summary

The 2004 recommendations stem from scrutiny of the national action plans, analysis of the employment guidelines for the period 2003-2005 and the conclusions of the European Employment Taskforce set out in the joint report for 2003-2004. Employment policies are deployed in line with the recommendations for the broad economic policy guidelines (BEPG).

This report concludes that the Member States and the social partners have given limited responses to the Council recommendations of 22 July 2003. The common priorities of the 2004 recommendations are to:

  • increase the adaptability of workers and enterprises, inter alia, by promoting flexibility combined with security in the labour market; by creating more and better jobs and raising productivity ;
  • attract more people to enter and remain on the labour market and make work a real option for all, inter alia, by building comprehensive active ageing strategies (measures to counter early retirement, more flexible work organisation, using skills to best advantage, providing training),by ensuring personalised services to all those seeking employment, and by enhancing the attractiveness of employment by ‘making work pay’;
  • invest more and more effectively in human capital and lifelong learning, inter alia, by sharing costs between public authorities, companies and individuals; by broadening the supply of training, in particular for the low-skilled and older workers, by stemming early dropping out of school and by improving the relevance of higher education to the labour market;
  • ensure effective implementation of reforms through better governance, inter alia, by building broad partnerships including the social partners, civil society and public authorities; where appropriate, by defining targets to reflect the priorities set at European level, and ensuring effective use of public funds by promoting the role and visibility of National Action Plans and through country-specific recommendations for developing mutual learning.

The new Member States need to further develop their efforts to achieve a new balance between flexibility and security, and to improve the health of the workforce. Stepping up the social dialogue and improving the administrative capacity of public authorities are crucial to achieve full implementation and efficient use of European Social Fund support. The country-specific messages in the Employment Taskforce report provide the basis for implementing the employment guidelines in the new Member States.

COUNTRY-SPECIFIC RECOMMANDATIONS

Belgium | Denmark | Germany | Greece | Spain | France | Ireland | Italy | Luxembourg | Netherlands | Austria | Portugal | Finland | Sweden | United Kingdom | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Estonia | Hungary | Lithuania | Latvia | Malta | Poland | Slovenia | Slovakia

Belgium

The employment rate in Belgium remains far below the Lisbon targets. The employment rate for older workers is amongst the lowest in EU25. The employment rate of non-nationals is strikingly low. Belgium should give immediate priority to:

  • better anticipating restructuring of enterprises, in particular in the case of collective redundancies;
  • reducing non-wage labour costs, in particular for the low-paid, while safeguarding budgetary consolidation efforts ;
  • improving cooperation between regional employment services to support mobility between regions;
  • removing unemployment traps by reviewing the conditionality of benefits;
  • increasing the coverage of unemployed adults, disadvantaged young people and immigrants in the measures run by the employment services ;
  • monitoring recent inter-professional agreements to raise worker participation in training, with special attention for the low-skilled.

Denmark

Denmark has employment rates well above the Lisbon employment targets, including for women and older workers. Denmark nevertheless needs to ensure adequate labour supply in the longer term and should as a matter of priority get down to :

  • reducing the overall fiscal pressure on labour while at the same time safeguarding budgetary consolidation efforts;
  • removing incentives for early retirement or, where appropriate, reducing marginal tax rates and raising incentives for low-income groups to work;
  • helping to integrate immigrants into the labour market, in particular by providing training to build up the necessary basic skills;
  • monitoring trends in vocational training in the light of recent increases in training fees.

Germany

The German employment rate is above the EU average but still below the Lisbon targets. The employment rate for older workers is lagging behind. The employment rate for women exceeds the EU average but is stagnating. Since 2000, employment has been on the decline and unemployment has increased. Long-term unemployment and regional disparities between the eastern and western parts of the country persist. Germany should give immediate priority to:

  • reviewing the financing of the social protection systems to reduce non-wage labour costs;
  • encouraging the social partners to take responsibility in wage setting, and in achieving further progress in working time flexibility;
  • promoting the development of SMEs, through better access to financing, and strengthening entrepreneurial culture, especially in the Eastern part of the country ;
  • continuing reform of the tax system and employment services’ reforms (Hartz reforms);
  • reducing the gender pay gap and reviewing possible tax disincentives to female participation in the labour market; increasing childcare facilities, especially in the Western Länder, and improving the correspondence between school schedules and working hours;
  • strengthening efforts to integrate immigrants;
  • improving education levels of the workforce, especially for the low-skilled and SME employees;
  • continuing to encourage the dual system of school and on-the-job training.

Greece

Although job creation has increased recently, Greece still has one of the lowest employment rates in the EU, particularly for women. Undeclared work is widespread. Labour productivity remains at low levels. Adult participation in training also remains low, especially given the low educational attainment of the working-age population. In recent years, increased immigration has contributed to labour supply. Greece should give immediate priority to:

  • further raising the attractiveness of part-time work and developing temporary work agencies to increase the diversity of work arrangements;
  • reducing non-wage labour costs while at the same time safeguarding budgetary consolidation; doing more to transform undeclared work into regular employment by improving the attractiveness of standard and non-standard contracts to employers and employees and strengthening law enforcement capacity;
  • promoting a more employment-friendly business environment;
  • taking stronger action to increase the level and effectiveness of active labour market policies and speeding up the development of efficient employment services throughout the country offering preventative and personalised services; upgrading the statistical monitoring systems;
  • further raising incentives for women to participate in the labour market, including through part-time employment; increasing the availability and affordability of care facilities for children and other dependants;
  • reviewing incentives to promote life-long learning and increase participation in training, in particular for the low-skilled and for immigrants.

Spain

Despite substantial progress between 1997 and 2002, unemployment in Spain remains well above the EU average, while the employment rate remains well below. Addressing regional disparities remains a priority. Female participation and the employment rate of older workers remain particularly low. Moreover, about a third of all workers are still employed under fixed-term contracts. Labour productivity remains at low levels. Overall levels of educational attainment and participation of adults in training remain particularly low. In recent years, increased immigration has contributed to labour supply. Spain should give immediate priority to:

  • making permanent contracts more attractive for employers and discouraging the use of fixed-term contracts so as to counter the segmentation of the labour market; increasing the attractiveness of temporary agency work for workers; removing obstacles to part-time work;
  • using possibilities of wage differentiation according to productivity gains at local, regional and sectoral levels;
  • raising incentives for women to participate in the labour market by bringing down the cost of care facilities for children and other dependants;
  • improving active labour market measures for disadvantaged people, in particular young people, people with disabilities, immigrants and the long-term unemployed; completing the modernisation of the public employment services; strengthening the coordination between regional employment services; and removing remaining obstacles to geographical mobility.

France

In France, the overall employment rate is below the EU average. The employment rate for older workers (55-64) is one of the lowest in the EU. Unemployment remains among the highest in the EU and it is particularly high for young people (15-24). The employment rate of non-nationals is strikingly low, notably for women. The share of fixed-term contracts continues to exceed the EU-15 average, whereas participation of adults in education and training remains just below average. France should give immediate priority to

  • facilitating the transition of people employed under fixed-term contracts into permanent contracts;
  • developing a more effective system of anticipation and management of restructuring;
  • promoting a business-friendly environment for the development of SMEs and monitoring progress in order to increase the number of business start-ups;
  • monitoring the impact of the pension reform on the exit age;
  • strengthening the provision of individualised services; building effective pathways to work and training for unemployed young people and for immigrants, notably women;
  • ensuring proper evaluation of the recent reform of the unemployment insurance system and ensuring that it is accompanied by appropriate requirements and effective job search;
  • ensuring that the social partners’ agreement on vocational training and the law on training throughout working life result in an increased share of the population participating in training, giving particular attention to the low-skilled and workers in SMEs.

Ireland

The total employment rate in Ireland has increased from 56,1 % to 65,3 % since 1997 while unemployment has fallen by nearly two-thirds and long-term unemployment from 5,6% to 1,3 %. There is still a significant gap between employment rates for women and men, as well as a high gender pay gap. Labour shortages remain a problem although they are eased by increased immigration. A significant element in Ireland’s success is its capacity to attract direct foreign investment. Social partnership, its tax system, a good regulatory environment and investment in human capital are also major factors. Ireland should give immediate priority to:

  • increasing access to active labour market measures for a larger share of the unemployed and inactive population and ensure their effectiveness;
  • increasing the supply and affordability of childcare facilities and taking urgent action to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap.

Italy

Despite weak economic conditions employment growth still continues to be positive and confirms the improvements since 1997. However, the employment rate continues to be one of the lowest in the EU. Female participation and the employment rate of older workers also remain among the lowest in EU25. Unemployment has decreased in recent years, but still stands above the EU15 average. With unemployment at about 5 % in the centre-north, compared to 18 % in the south, addressing regional disparities is a priority. Undeclared work still remains particularly significant, even if the employment situation of 700 000 immigrants has been regularised. Overall levels of educational attainment and participation in training remain particularly low. Italy should give immediate priority to:

  • reducing the imbalances between permanent and non-permanent contracts and labour market segmentation; improving the level, coverage and effectiveness of unemployment insurance;
  • further reducing non-wage labour costs, especially for the low-paid, while at the same time safeguarding budgetary consolidation;
  • doing more to transform undeclared work into regular employment by removing tax disincentives and improving law enforcement capacity;
  • encouraging the social partners to review wage bargaining systems to take account of regional labour market differences;
  • ensuring the development of effective employment services throughout the country, especially in the South, including efficient personalised services and participation in active labour market schemes, focusing in particular on the situation of the young, the disadvantaged and the low-skilled;
  • increasing the availability and affordability of care facilities for children, especially under three years of age, and other dependants;
  • increasing participation in training, in particular for the low skilled, through, inter alia, the effective development of inter-professional funds.

Luxembourg

In Luxembourg, the employment rate is close to the EU average but still below the EU target. Unemployment remains low and the long-term unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the EU. However, the new jobs generated by the economic boom of the 1990s were notably taken up by cross-border workers and women, while employment of older workers remained at a very low level. Participation in education and training remains below the EU15 average. Luxembourg should give immediate priority to:

  • supporting the development of start-ups and promoting business training;
  • retaining workers longer in employment, particularly in the private sector, by reducing the use of early retirement schemes;
  • promoting work-oriented solutions for people covered by the disability scheme who are able to work;
  • encouraging women to return to work after long periods outside the labour market; taking action to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap;
  • ensuring effective implementation of the framework law on continuing training and increasing participation in training, notably for the low-skilled;
  • revising the overall lifelong learning system to achieve better coherence between the education and training systems.

The Netherlands

While the employment rates for women and men well exceed the Lisbon targets, the employment rate of immigrants remains low. The labour market is characterised by an exceptionally high level of part-time work (about 44 % of the workforce), and a high number of people on disability benefits. The employment rate of older workers exceeds the EU average but is still far below the EU target. Unemployment has risen significantly since 2001, although it remains among the lowest in the EU. The Netherlands should give immediate priority to:

  • implementing and closely monitoring wage developments in line with the ‘Autumn Agreement’ between the government and the social partners which provides inter alia for a wage freeze in 2004 and 2005;
  • screening the work ability of people on disability benefits and assisting those who are able to work to find a suitable job, paying special attention to women under the age of 40;
  • increasing the effectiveness of and access to active measures for social benefit recipients and those at the greatest risk of becoming inactive; facilitating the integration of immigrants;
  • facilitating the transition from part-time to full-time jobs;
  • taking urgent action to tackle the causes of gender pay gaps and increasing the affordability of childcare facilities.

Austria

Austria has achieved a high employment rate overall, and a relatively high employment rate for women, in line with the Lisbon targets. Unemployment is amongst the lowest in the EU. Social partnership plays an important role in modernising work organisation, improving labour legislation and ensuring satisfactory wage developments. The employment rate of older workers, however, is particularly low. Employment growth has slowed down and unemployment has started to rise. Participation of adults in education and training is below the EU average. The gender pay gap remains one of the highest in the EU. Austria should give immediate priority to:

  • monitoring and if necessary complementing reforms on severance pay legislation and progress on the planned implementation of entitlement to unemployment benefit for the self-employed in order to increase levels of occupational mobility;
  • monitoring the impact of the revision of the pension system on the effective exit age and progress towards the national targets;
  • taking action to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap; increasing the availability and affordability of childcare facilities and evaluating the impact of the present childcare allowance scheme on the level and quality of female employment;
  • reviewing incentives to increase participation in training, especially for the low-skilled and for immigrants.

Portugal

Portugal is close to achieving the Lisbon target on overall employment and slightly exceeds the employment targets for women and older workers. The recent economic slowdown has caused unemployment to rise, although it remains at a relatively low level by comparison with the EU average. Levels of productivity, overall levels of educational attainment and access to training remain particularly low. Moreover, a significant share of people (more than 20 %) is employed under fixed-term contracts. In recent years, increased immigration has contributed to labour supply. Portugal should give immediate priority to:

  • promoting modernisation of work organisation and strengthening productivity and quality at work;
  • building on the new Labour Code to make permanent contracts more attractive to employers and employees alike, and to counter the segmentation of the labour market;
  • developing a more effective system of anticipation and management of restructuring;
  • strengthening active labour market measures for the unemployed and the inactive and ensuring their efficiency; strengthening efforts to integrate immigrants;
  • taking action to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap in the private sector and increase the availability and affordability of care facilities for children and other dependants;
  • raising the educational attainment of the whole workforce, strengthening the incentives for lifelong learning and increasing participation in training, in particular for the low-skilled.

Finland

Finland is close to the overall employment rate target and it exceeds the employment rate target for women. It has achieved a high increase in the participation of older workers over the last decade, coming close to the EU target for older workers. The unemployment rate is above the EU average, and is particularly high for young people. Finland should give immediate priority to:

  • reducing non-wage labour costs on the low-paid while maintaining sound public finances;
  • monitoring the impact of recent reforms of active labour market policies on structural unemployment and regional disparities; taking special measures to facilitate the activation and integration of disadvantaged young people, people with disabilities and immigrants;;
  • further reforming tax and benefit systems to remove unemployment traps.

Sweden

Sweden exceeds all EU employment targets including those for women and for older workers. The total unemployment rate stands at about 5 %. Efforts should be maintained to avoid labour supply constraints. In view of the ageing population, there will be a need to sustain labour supply by exploiting potential sources of labour among immigrants, the young and the long-term sick, and by improving incentives to work. Sweden should give immediate priority to:

  • facilitating the development of SMEs in particular by reducing administrative burdens;
  • addressing the rising number of people on long-term sick leave by promoting work-oriented solutions and improving conditions of work;
  • eliminating remaining unemployment and inactivity traps;
  • closely monitoring the results of actions to integrate immigrants into the labour force;
  • addressing the issue of emerging bottlenecks and skills mismatches in low- and medium-skilled sectors.

United Kingdom

The UK exceeds all the employment rate targets, including those for women and for older workers. However, concentrations of economic inactivity, and to a lesser extent unemployment, persist in certain communities and amongst particular groups. Productivity levels, especially as expressed per hour worked, remain comparatively low. This is in part due to the prevalence of low skills amongst the workforce, including insufficient basic skills. The gender pay gap remains one of the widest in the EU. The United Kingdom should give immediate priority to:

  • ensuring that wage trends do not exceed productivity gains;
  • ensuring that active labour market policies and benefit systems prevent de-skilling and promote quality in work, by improving incentives to work and supporting sustainable integration and progress in the labour market of inactive and unemployed people; addressing the rising number of people claiming sickness or disability benefits, and giving particular attention to lone parents and people living in deprived areas;
  • improving the access to and affordability of childcare and care for other dependants, increasing access to training for low paid women in part-time work, and taking urgent action to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap;
  • implementing national and regional skills strategies, with particular emphasis on improving literacy and numeracy of the workforce, the participation and achievement of 16-19 year olds, and low-skilled workers in poorly paid jobs.

PRIORITIES FOR THE NEW MEMBER STATES

Cyprus

The employment rate in Cyprus is well above the EU15 average and the unemployment rate is low. The share of foreign workers, who are often employed on a temporary basis, has increased significantly over the years in response to labour market needs. Cyprus needs to:

  • raise innovation capacity and diversify the service sector;
  • further increase female participation (which is already above the EU average), improve care facilities, increase the participation of women in training, and enhance the attractiveness of part-time work;
  • review policies on the employment and the rights of foreign workers, including in terms of the opportunities open to them;
  • modernise the public employment services and strengthen preventive and active labour market measures in order to cover a greater proportion of unemployed and people with disabilities, ageing job-seekers and women;
  • build on the reorganisation of education underway since 2000, improve the links between initial education and continuing training and ensure greater participation in training.

Czech Republic

The employment rate in the Czech Republic is slightly above the EU15 average. Unemployment is around the EU15 average but has been slowly increasing since the mid-1990s. The employment rate of older workers is close to the EU average but low, particularly for women, given the early statutory retirement age. There are significant regional imbalances. The Czech Republic needs to:

  • ensure that wage trends remain in line with productivity developments;
  • further discourage welfare dependency and ensure that regular work pays;
  • strengthen incentives to part-time work in order to encourage the participation of women and older workers;
  • modernise the public employment services and do more to integrate the most vulnerable groups in the labour market (particularly in regions other than Prague and for the Roma population), applying preventive and active labour market measures, combined with anti-discrimination measures, putting a strong emphasis on education, training, support for entrepreneurship and job creation.

Estonia

The employment rate in Estonia is a little below the EU15 average. The unemployment rate has decreased over the years but remains higher than the EU average. Moreover, the share of long-term unemployed is high. Estonia is expected to suffer from the decline in the working-age population resulting from demographic change. Estonia needs to:

  • reduce the tax wedge on labour, especially on lower wage earners, and promote contractual and working time diversity; improve the tax systems and transform undeclared work into regular jobs. It is also important that wage trends remain in line with productivity developments;
  • reduce levels of inactivity and raise further the participation of women, older workers and the low-skilled;
  • strengthen active labour market measures, provide greater access to training for the unemployed and ensure that the labour market becomes more inclusive, particularly with regard to disadvantaged people, such as the long-term unemployed, young people, persons with disabilities, older jobseekers those belonging to an ethnic minority.

Hungary

The employment rate in Hungary is low, particularly for the low-skilled, the disadvantaged, women and for older workers. At the same time, unemployment remains well below the EU15 average. This is explained by a low participation rate, i.e. a large inactive population of working age. There are major labour market imbalances between the central and western regions and the rest of the country. Regional and sectoral mobility is low, while skills bottlenecks reflect both a lack of skilled labour and the insufficient responsiveness of education and training systems to labour market needs. Hungary needs to :

  • reduce the high tax wedge on labour and ensure, in conjunction with the social partners, more employment-friendly wage developments;
  • improve worker health by promoting better working conditions and preventive and curative healthcare; pursue reforms of the social benefit systems, including sickness benefits, in order to reduce undeclared work;
  • encourage part-time work, in particular for women and older workers; strengthen preventive and active labour market measures for the unemployed and the inactive is also necessary, especially in the most disadvantaged regions; modernise public employment services, so as to support occupational and geographic mobility; improve the labour market prospects of the Roma population ;
  • promote equal access to university education; improve the efficiency of the education system, and increase its flexibility in order to better adapt to the skills needs of the labour market.

Lithuania

The employment rate in Lithuania has risen slightly recently but remains well below the EU15 average. The unemployment rate has decreased significantly but is still well above the EU average. Lithuania needs to:

  • increase the share of employment in services; alleviate the tax burden; anticipate and accompany restructuring in conjunction with the social partners;
  • strengthen active labour market policies to help unemployed or inactive people move back into employment; broaden access to training, support for job search, occupational mobility, and the modernisation of the public employment services;
  • further raise levels of participation of women and older workers by removing obstacles to part-time work; make more and more effective investment in human capital and lifelong learning.

Latvia

Employment in Latvia has increased quite strongly over the last two years. However, the overall employment rate stands below the EU15 average. Unemployment remains above the EU15 average with wide regional variations. At the same time, labour and skill shortages exist in Riga. Latvia needs to:

  • support the development of services, especially in disadvantaged regions and address the issue of undeclared work;
  • encourage people to take up a job in the formal economy and encourage women to stay in the labour market;
  • modernise public employment services and develop active and preventive policies for the unemployed, in particular measures supporting job search, entrepreneurship, geographic mobility and greater access to training; ensure a more equitable and inclusive labour market for the young, the low-skilled and those belonging to an ethnic minority;
  • address the problem of skills gaps and skills mismatches and increase access to education.

Malta

The employment rate in Malta is particularly low compared to EU15 average. The employment rate of older workers is particularly low. The employment rate of women is the lowest in the EU25: only a third of women of working age are in work. Unemployment has increased slightly over the last two years but remains below the EU15 average. Malta needs to:

  • roll out its privatisation programme while redeploying employees as necessary and progressively reduce administrative costs and tax burden on labour; build on the provisions of the revised Business Promotion Act and monitor its impact;
  • expand its labour supply by raising the employment rate for women in the formal economy, inter alia by increasing childcare facilities;
  • reform the tax and benefit systems, and increase the gap between minimum wage and benefit level in order to provide sufficient incentives to take up a job and to help to transform undeclared work into regular employment;
  • raise general educational levels and develop a more systematic approach to education and training in conjunction with the social partners.

Poland

The employment rate in Poland is among the lowest in the EU25. The situation on the labour market has deteriorated during the last four years. The employment rates of women, of older workers, of young people and of the low-skilled are particularly low. At about 20 %, the unemployment rate is at its highest level since the start of the economic transformation, and is the highest in EU25. Poland needs to:

  • foster entrepreneurship and a more employment-friendly environment, especially in the context of restructuring;
  • address the high tax wedge on labour, particularly at the lower end of the wage scale, particularly in order to reduce undeclared work;
  • in conjunction with the social partners sustain employment-friendly wage developments, actively promote change at enterprise level and facilitate job mobility;
  • accelerate the establishment of new public employment services, with sufficient resources in terms of funding, staff numbers, training and equipment;
  • pursue the reform of the different benefit systems including disability benefits and social assistance, with a focus on promoting active job search and reintegration, particularly with regard to disadvantaged young people; increase opportunities for women and older workers, particularly through part-time work;
  • ensure that the education and training system provides new labour market entrants with the skills needed in a labour market characterised by structural change; ensure equal access to education and improve the efficiency and quality of education; invest in training and facilitate access to training as well as the commitment of the social partners.

Slovenia

The employment rate in Slovenia is slightly below the EU15 average, but is particularly low for older workers. The unemployment rate is well below the EU average. Slovenia needs to:

  • increase activity and reduce undeclared work by improving interaction between the minimum wage and the different components of tax burden on labour; promote flexible forms of work while maintaining the appropriate balance between flexibility and security;
  • increase the employment of people over 55; reduce the use of early retirement schemes; ensure consistency between tax and benefit reforms; promote access to training for older workers; review the interactions between unemployment, social benefits and the minimum wage in order to reduce undeclared work; ensure access to training for public employment service staff in order to strengthen relations between private and public employment services;
  • increase the share of the adult population participating in further education and training; provide incentives for workers and employers to invest in training.

Slovakia

The overall employment rate in Slovakia remains low compared to the EU15 average. Although it is declining, unemployment is still very high, with a large share of long-term unemployed. The employment rate of women is low and the employment rate of young people, of the low-skilled and of older workers (especially women) is particularly low. There are significant regional imbalances. Slovakia needs to:

  • further reduce the high tax wedge on labour; promote more contractual and working time diversity;
  • remove unemployment and inactivity traps and transform undeclared work into employment by building on the ongoing reforms of the tax and benefit systems;
  • make work pay; increase the participation of older workers and women in employment, especially through the implementation of employment legislation and pensions reform, more flexible forms of work and greater use of part-time work;
  • foster the integration of the most vulnerable groups (e.g. the Roma, the long-term unemployed, young people, people with disabilities, older workers, people living in disadvantaged areas) and promote modern active labour market measures, greater access to training for the unemployed and the inactive; modernise public employment services;
  • coordinate training systems and labour market requirements, and encourage occupational and geographic mobility throughout life, particularly in order to foster the integration of young people.

Related Acts

Council Recommendation (EC) No 579/2003 of 22 July 2003 on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (2003/579/EC [Official Journal L 197 of 05.08.2003].
The Commission’s proposal for employment recommendations is presented in conjunction with the new employment guidelines. The 2003 guidelines include, in particular, three main objectives and 10 structural reform priorities, and call on the Member States to improve governance, the partnership between the different players and the implementation of the process. Drawing on the findings of the joint employment report for 2002, which assesses the action taken at national level, the Commission provides the Member States with specific guidance for implementing the new guidelines and focusing their policy action on the key challenges to be faced. The recommendations have to do mainly with lifelong learning, labour supply and active ageing, gender equality, making work pay, addressing change and promoting adaptability.

Council Recommendation (EC) No 178/2002 of 18 February 2002 on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (2003/579/EC [Official Journal L 60 of 01.03.2002]
The 2002 recommendations carry over those proposed by the Council in 2001.

Council Recommendation (EC) No 64/2001 of 19 January 2001 on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [Official Journal L 22 of 24.01.2001]
They mainly concerned active and preventive policies aimed at combating youth and long-term unemployment; increasing the supply and demand of labour particularly by reforming tax and benefit systems; a comprehensive strategy for lifelong learning; equal opportunities; combating regional imbalances; partnership between governments and social partners; and the overall policy mix.

Council Recommendation (EC) No 164/2000 of 14 February 2000 on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [Official Journal L 52 of 25.02.2000]
These recommendations identify the key labour-market challenges facing the Member States and suggest appropriate lines of action. The main areas of concern are: the effort to combat youth unemployment and long-term unemployment; tax and social benefit reforms; qualifications and lifelong learning; older workers and the extension of working life; the mainstreaming of gender equality and of equal opportunities; the promotion of the services sector; and the social partners and modernisation of labour administration.

Employment policy guidelines

Employment policy guidelines

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment policy guidelines

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Employment policy guidelines (2005-2008)

In eight guidelines for higher employment in the European Union (EU), the Commission focuses on policies designed to achieve full employment, for example by improving inclusion of people at a disadvantage, greater investment in human resources, adaptation of education and training systems and more flexibility combined with job security.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2005/600/EC of 12 July 2005 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

Summary

The integrated guidelines for growth and jobs for the period 2005-2008 bring together, in a single, coherent and simplified text, the Broad Economy Policy Guidelines (BEPGs) and employment guidelines. They are the principal policy instrument for developing and implementing the Lisbon Strategy.

The employment guidelines are thus presented in an integrated policy instrument * which covers both the macroeconomic and the microeconomic aspects of the European Union (EU), presents a clear strategic vision of the challenges facing Europe and enables the Union to channel Member States’ efforts towards priority measures. Certain employment guidelines are to be implemented in line with the corresponding guidelines in other areas in order to mutually strengthen the different sectors of the economy.

Firstly, to attract more people into employment and modernise social protection systems, the Commission proposes to:

  • Implement employment policies intended to achieve full employment, improve quality and productivity at work, and strengthen social and territorial cohesion (Integrated Guideline No 17). These policies should help to achieve an average employment rate for the European Union (EU) of 70% overall, at least 60% for women and 50% for older workers (55 to 64), and to reduce unemployment and inactivity. Member States should set national employment rate targets.
  • Promote a new lifecycle approach to work (Integrated Guideline No 18) through:


    – renewed endeavours to build employment pathways for young people and reduce youth unemployment, as recommended in the European Youth Pact,

    – resolute action to increase female participation and reduce gender gaps in employment, unemployment and pay,

    – better reconciliation of work and private life and the provision of accessible and affordable childcare facilities and care for dependants,

    – support for working conditions conducive to active ageing,

    – modernisation of social protection systems, including pensions and healthcare, to ensure their social adequacy, financial sustainability and responsiveness to changing needs, so as to support participation in employment, remaining at work and longer working lives.

This guideline should be applied taking into account Guideline No 2 “To safeguard economic and fiscal sustainabilityâ€.

  • Ensure inclusive labour markets, enhance work attractiveness, and make work pay attractive for job-seekers, including disadvantaged people and the inactive (Integrated Guideline No 19) through:


    – active and preventive labour market measures, including early identification of needs, job search assistance, guidance and training as part of personalised action plans, and provision of necessary social services to support the inclusion of those furthest away from the labour market and contribute to the eradication of poverty,

    – ongoing review of the incentives and disincentives resulting from the tax and benefit systems, including the management and conditionality of benefits and a significant reduction of high marginal effective tax rates, notably for those with low incomes, whilst ensuring adequate levels of social protection,

    – development of new sources of jobs in services for individuals and businesses, notably at local level.

  • Improve matching of labour market needs (Integrated Guideline No 20) through:


    – the modernisation and strengthening of labour market institutions, especially employment services, also with a view to ensuring greater transparency of employment and training opportunities at national and European level,

    – removing obstacles to mobility for workers across Europe within the framework of the Treaties,

    – better anticipation of skill needs, labour market shortages and bottlenecks,

    – appropriate management of economic migration.

Secondly, to improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises and the flexibility of labour markets, the Commission proposes to:

  • Promote flexibility combined with employment security and reduce labour market segmentation, having due regard to the role of the social partners (Integrated Guideline No 21) through:


    – adaptation of employment legislation, reviewing where necessary the different contractual and working time arrangements,

    – addressing the issue of undeclared work,

    – better anticipation and positive management of change, including economic restructuring, for example changes linked to the opening of markets, so as to minimise their social costs and facilitate adaptation,

    – promotion and dissemination of innovative and adaptable forms of work organisation, with a view to improving quality and productivity at work, including health and safety,

    – facilitating changes in occupational status, including training, self-employment, business creation and geographical mobility.

This guideline should be applied taking into account Guideline No 5 “To promote greater coherence between macroeconomic, structural and employment policiesâ€, in relation to macroeconomic policy.

  • Ensure employment-friendly labour cost developments and wage-setting mechanisms (Integrated Guideline No 22) by:


    – encouraging social partners within their own areas of responsibility to set the right framework for wage bargaining in order to reflect productivity and labour market challenges at all relevant levels and to avoid gender pay gaps,

    – reviewing the impact on employment of non-wage labour costs and, where appropriate, adjusting their structure and level, especially to reduce the tax burden on the low-paid.

This guideline should be applied taking into account Guideline No 4 “To ensure that wage developments contribute to macroeconomic stability and growthâ€, in relation to macroeconomic policy.

Thirdly, to invest more in human capital through better education and skills, the Commission proposes to:

  • Expand and improve investment in human capital (Integrated Guideline No 23) through:


    – inclusive education and training policies and action to ensure significantly easier access to initial vocational, secondary and higher education, including apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training,

    – significantly reducing the number of early school leavers,

    – efficient lifelong learning strategies open to everyone in schools, businesses, public authorities and households according to European agreements, including appropriate incentives and cost-sharing mechanisms, with a view to ensuring lifelong participation in continuous and workplace training, especially for the low-skilled and older workers.

This guideline should be applied taking account of Guideline No 7 “To increase and improve investment in R&D, in particular by private businessâ€, in relation to microeconomic policy.

  • Adapt education and training systems in response to new competence requirements (Integrated Guideline No 24) through:


    – raising and ensuring the attractiveness, openness and quality standards of education and training, broadening the supply of education and training opportunities, ensuring flexible learning pathways and increasing mobility possibilities for students and trainees,

    – facilitating and diversifying access for everyone to education, training and knowledge through the organisation of working hours, family support services, career guidance services and, where appropriate, new forms of cost-sharing,

    – responding to new occupational needs, key competences and future skill requirements by improving the definition and transparency of qualifications, their effective recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Updates during the period up to 2008 should be strictly limited. The Commission is presenting the Integrated Guidelines as part of the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy.

Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs (2005-2008)

Macroeconomic guidelines
(1) To secure economic stability for sustainable growth.
(2) To safeguard economic and budgetary sustainability.
(3) To promote a growth- and employment-orientated and efficient allocation of resources.
(4) To ensure that wage developments contribute to economic stability.
(5) To promote greater coherence between macroeconomic, structural and employment policies.
(6) To contribute to a dynamic and well-functioning EMU.
Macroeconomic guidelines

(7) To increase and improve investment in R&D, in particular by private business.
(8) To facilitate all forms of innovation.
(9) To facilitate the spread and effective use of ICT and build a fully inclusive information society.
(10) To strengthen the competitive advantages of its industrial base.
(11) To encourage the sustainable use of resources and strengthen environmental protection.
(12) To extend and deepen the internal market.
(13) To ensure open and competitive markets inside and outside Europe and to reap the benefits of globalisation.
(14) To create a more competitive business environment.
(15) To promote a more entrepreneurial culture and create a supportive environment for SMEs.
(16) To improve European infrastructure.
Employment guidelines
(17) Implement employment policies aiming at achieving full employment, improving quality and productivity at work, and strengthening social and territorial cohesion.
(18) Promote a life-cycle approach to work.
(19) Ensure inclusive labour markets, enhance work attractiveness, and make work pay for job-seekers, including disadvantaged people, and the inactive.
(20) Improve matching of labour market needs.
(21) Promote flexibility combined with employment security and reduce labour market segmentation, having due regard to the role of the social partners.
(22) Ensure employment-friendly labour cost developments and wage-setting mechanisms.
(23) Expand and improve investment in human capital.
(24) Adapt education and training systems in response to new competence requirements.

References

Act

Entry into force – Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2005/600/EC

25.4.2005

25.4.2005

L 205 of 12.7.2005

Related Acts

Council Decision 2007/491/EC of 10 July 2007 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States [Official Journal L 183 of 13.7.2007].
As in 2006, the Council maintained its guidelines in 2007 but stressed that they should be taken into account by the Member States in their policies.

Council Decision 2006/544/EC of 18 July 2006 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States [OJ L 215 of 5.8.2006].
In view of the essential role of employment policies under the Lisbon agenda, the Council urged the Member States to ensure the application of all the 2005–2008 guidelines as part of their national employment programmes. Updating of these guidelines should be limited in order to ensure the stability necessary for effective implementation. The Council therefore decided not to amend the guidelines for 2006.


Another Normative about Employment policy guidelines

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Employment policy guidelines (2008-2010)

The guidelines proposed by the Commission should direct the coordination of European Union (EU) Member States’ policies towards an objective of employment and sustainable growth.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/618/EC of 15 July 2008 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

Summary

Employment guidelines are one of the three pillars for the Integrated Guidelines for 2008-2010. They add to the Broad Economy Policy Guidelines (BEPG) 2008-2010 which cover macroeconomic policies and national microeconomic reforms.

Member States should adopt policies that enable full employment, improve quality and productivity at work, and strengthen social and territorial cohesion (Guideline No 17). By adhering to these priorities by 2010, the European Union (EU) should achieve an employment rate of 70 % overall, of at least 60 % for women and of 50% for older workers (55 to 64).

The Commission proposes three priority fields of action for growth and employment:

  • Attract more people in employment, increase labour supply and modernise social protection systems

Considering the ageing of the European population, employment policies should be better adapted to different stages in the lifecycle (Guideline No 18). Action should encourage longer working lives and active ageing, whilst ensuring the modernisation and viability of social protection systems (including pensions and health). Appropriate policies should also ensure that youth unemployment is reduced in accordance with the aims of the Youth Pact. In addition, female participation should be increased by ensuring gender equality. Policies should ensure that work and family life is better coordinated, by developing childcare services and care for other dependants.

The European labour market should be inclusive and strengthen work attractiveness in particular for job-seekers. It should be a factor for social inclusion (Guideline No 19). To this end active inclusion measures should be implemented, early and equally. As should incentives and disincentive measures related to tax and benefit systems. New jobs should be developed in services for individuals and businesses.

Matching of labour market needs (Guideline No 20), can be improved through the modernisation of national labour market institutions, in particular by ensuring greater transparency of the dissemination of employment and training opportunities and better anticipation of labour shortages. It is also essential to encourage intra-European mobility, and to better reap the benefits of immigrant labour.

  • Improve adaptability of workers and enterprises to the economic situation

In order to better respond to economic and social changes, the labour market should be more flexible and more homogenous, whilst guaranteeing employment security (Guideline No 21). Member States should integrate these objectives into their national legislation, and promote innovative forms of work organisation. They should anticipate economic changes in order to reduce their social costs and to facilitate workers’ occupational transitions.

Labour cost developments and wage-setting mechanisms should be employment-friendly (GuidelineNo 22). Social partners should implement frameworks for salary negotiation which take into account productivity and labour market objectives. Whilst the tax burden on the low-paid should be reduced.

  • Invest in human capital through better education and skills

Investment in human capital (Guideline No 23) should be increased. This should be achieved through inclusive policies for education and training at all levels. Also by reducing the number of early school leavers. Strategies should be adopted for lifelong learning, and these can be supported in particular by financial incentives.

Education and training systems should be better adapted to new needs in terms of qualifications (Guideline No 24). The openness and quality of these systems should be guaranteed, as should the diversity of training opportunities and possibilities for mobility. Education and training should be accessible to all, in particular through working time organisation, vocational guidance and cost sharing. Non-formal and informal education should be better recognised and validated.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2008/618/EC

OJ L 198 of 26.7.2008

Related Acts

Council Recommendation 2009/531/EC of 25 June 2009 on the 2009 update of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [OJ L 183 of 15.7.2009].
These recommendations are intended to enable Member States to improve the implementation of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs (cycle 2008-2010). They concern both economic policy guidelines and employment policy guidelines.

These recommendations are specific to the economic and social situation of each State and take account of the slowdown resulting from the international financial crisis.

Member States are to modify their national reform programmes and to give an account of their actions in the annual reports on the implementation of those programmes.

Council Decision 2009/536/EC of 7 July 2009 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.
The guidelines for the employment policies, as adopted by Decision 2008/618/EC of 15 July 2008, are maintained in 2009.

Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress

Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress (November 2003)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 26 November 2003: Improving quality in work: a review of recent progress [COM(2003) 728 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Quality in work is one of the key objectives both of the Guidelines 2003-2005 and those proposed by the Commission for the period 2005-2008. There is a positive correlation between quality and progress towards full employment and stronger growth as highlighted in the Lisbon strategy revised in 2005.

Although quality in work in Europe has improved, this communication states that it is not enough. The Commission proposes investing more in this area. The examples show that Member States which are more concerned with quality in work perform better as regards employment and productivity.

According to the communication, the European labour force is increasingly well trained and competent. Firms are investing more in training. Employment rates are improving and the gender gap in employment and unemployment is narrowing. There are fewer occupational accidents, although their frequency in certain sectors remains considerable.

However, the results obtained are highly unequal. The overall trends conceal major differences between Member States. Besides, certain groups such as older workers, young people, the disabled and third country nationals have particular difficulties in finding a quality job with reasonable career prospects. Gender pay gaps remain considerable. Childcare services and nursing care are inadequate.

The ten following criteria and their application to the notion of quality of work, are analysed:

  • Intrinsic job quality: the possibility to make career progress (in terms of pay and status) is essential to remain at work in the labour market. In 2000, high degrees of dissatisfaction were observed in Spain, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland and the Netherlands had a satisfaction rate of 90%. To reduce the number of working poor and unemployment traps, Member States have above all reduced social security contributions or adopted in-work benefit schemes. The adoption of new flexible forms of work organisation giving workers room for autonomy and a perspective for their further career are crucial elements in this respect.
  • Skills, lifelong learning and career development: here it is important to increase the investment in human resources both on the part of public authorities as well as individuals and enterprises. This objective requires the creation of incentives to convince the stakeholders of the need for training. The report also stresses the importance of improving quality and efficiency with a view to promoting productivity, competitiveness and active ageing. Particular attention should be paid to older workers and the low skilled and to offering them basic skills in information and communications technology (ICT). More women participate in training than men at European level and in most of the Member States.
  • Gender equality: this dimension is closely linked to those concerning training, flexibility and work-life balance. Member States’ efforts to reduce gender employment and unemployment gaps vary from training (Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), review of tax, benefit and pensions systems and incentives for enterprises (Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and France), encouraging entrepreneurship (Greece, Sweden and Luxembourg) and better care services for children and other dependants (Ireland, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom).
  • Health and Safety at Work: The high absenteeism due to accidents at work and work-related illnesses and occupational diseases as well as the high number of permanent disabilities from occupational origin are some illustration of the most visible consequences that poor health and safety at work can have on the labour market. In the European Union, in the year 2000, a total of 158 million days’ work was lost, corresponding to an average of 20 days per accident. Around 350.000 workers were obliged to change their job as a consequence of an accident. Nearly 300.000 workers have various degrees of permanent disabilities and 15.000 are entirely excluded from the labour market. The new Community strategy on health and safety at work focuses on the need to consolidate a culture of risk prevention, to combine a variety of policy instruments (legislation, social dialogue, progressive measures and best practices, corporate social responsibility and economic incentives) and to develop partnerships between all the actors involved.
  • Flexibility and security at work: this indicator includes flexibility with regard notably to work organisation, working time, contractual arrangements and national or geographical mobility. At the same time quality requires adequate security for the workers to ensure sustainable integration and progress on the labour market, and to foster a wider acceptance of change. There is a role both for public authorities to encourage part-time work where it is under-developed, in particular through changes in the legislation, and for social partners to promote the quality of part-time jobs through collective agreements. It is also necessary to avoid the emergence of a two-tier labour market consisting on the one hand of workers with a high level of protection and, on the other hand, of marginal workers.
  • Inclusion and access to the labour market: major progress has been achieved in activation and prevention policies that enable citizens to access the labour market and remain in employment. It is a matter of giving a new start to inactive persons and the unemployed in the form of training, retraining, work practice, a job, or other employment measure. Other labour market tools to promote inclusion include Making work pay policies, life-long learning and the positive management of company restructuring. Facilitating participation in employment for people who are distant from the labour market is also a major plank of the EU Inclusion Strategy, which covers many other policy fields such as housing, health care, and social protection systems. The results in the framework of this agenda are included in the Joint Report on Social Inclusion 2003.
  • Work organisation and work-life balance: Flexible work arrangements and adequate care services for children and other dependants are essential to ensure the full participation of women and men on the labour market. Some efforts to reconcile work and family life have been implemented in most Member States. They include: more flexible work and working-time organisation (Germany, Belgium and France); part-time work facilities (Sweden, Luxembourg and Ireland); development of parental leave (Denmark, France, UK, Spain and the Netherlands); new measures, quantitative targets and deadlines on childcare provision (Belgium, France, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Sweden). However, childcare provision remains difficult and the Commission recommends better use of ICT in order to allow teleworking.
  • Social dialogue and worker involvement: progress has been made as regards lifelong learning collective agreements (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy and Portugal), equal opportunities aiming at reducing gender pay inequalities (Belgium, Finland, Netherlands and Ireland), at combating race discrimination (France, Denmark and Ireland), at increasing employment of disabled persons (Belgium Italy and Ireland) and at preventing age discrimination (Demark and Austria); health and safety at work collective agreements on the prevention and treatment of stress (Belgium), on well-being and psychological work environment (Denmark) and against the excessive workload (the Netherlands); flexibility and work-life balance collective agreements on parental leave (Sweden), on family leave and family-linked working time patterns (Belgium, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands), on sabbaticals (Finland), on childcare arrangements (Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands), on flexitime and teleworking (Italy, Austria, and Denmark) and on temporary agency workers (Italy and Germany).
  • Diversity and non-discrimination: it is mainly a matter of adopting comprehensive national strategies to promote integration in the employment market of disadvantaged groups such as older workers, third country nationals and people with disabilities. Besides the incentives addressed to employers to recruit older workers and the reform of the retirement and pre-retirement systems, the Commission proposes the implementation of life-long learning strategies and adapting working conditions. For migrant populations it is important to improve recognition of diplomas and to ensure proper assessment of migrants’ skills. As regards policy to encourage the activity of disabled people it is a matter of implementing effective disability mainstreaming in their national employment policy.
  • Overall work performance: EU productivity growth compared to the US has been disappointing in particular in ICT using services, which alone represent 21% of total employment. Productivity growth per person employed, at about 2% in the 1980s and the second half of the 1990s, fell to 1% in the 1996-2002 period and remains weak. Investment in human capital and training can contribute to reversing this slowdown. Life-long learning for all becomes a central element of a strategy for productivity growth. The pervasiveness of knowledge is crucial to enhance and diffuse throughout the whole economy the use of new technologies and to prevent segmentation of the labour market between workers with different types of education. However, there is a need to be active in all areas which contribute to raising productivity: social dialogue and work relationships; flexibility and adaptation to new forms of work organisation; balancing flexibility and security; career prospects for employees; health and safety at work.

The annex to this communication contains a list of key indicators and context indicators recommended by the Council of the European Union and quantitative data relating to each Member State.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Employment and Social Policies: a framework for investing in quality [COM(2001) 313 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Since the Lisbon European Council the Commission has focused on continuous modernisation of the European social model and investment in human capital. The promotion of quality as the driving force for a thriving economy facilitates improving the inter-relationship between economic and social policies. The annex to this communication notably contains graphs explaining the importance of investment in quality for the labour market and the improvement of social policies.

Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enlargement > Enlargement 2004 and 2007

Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

As part of the cooperation process with the candidate countries on employment, the Commission has set out the challenges identified, the progress made and the measures which still need to be taken.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 30 January 2003, entitled “Progress on the implementation of the Joint Assessment Papers on employment policies in candidate countries” [COM(2003) 37 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs)

With a view to joining the European Union, the candidate countries must adopt the Community acquis. It is the task of the European Commission to assist them in this and to monitor their progress.

To this end, in 1999 the European Commission initiated a cooperation process with the candidate countries in the area of employment. Together, in Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs), they identified the employment policy challenges resulting from applying the Lisbon objectives and from implementation of the Employment Title of the Treaty establishing the European Community. EU financial support for accession can thus focus on the priorities identified.

The European Commission provides a summary of the challenges identified in the JAPs and carries out a preliminary review of progress made in implementing them.

Challenges encountered by the candidate countries

In their progress towards achieving the objectives of the European Employment Strategy, the candidate countries encounter many challenges in transforming their labour markets — made more complex by economic restructuring — and in policy development.

The candidate countries must therefore:

  • increase employment rates, which are generally below the EU average and lower than the Lisbon objectives;
  • increase labour supply, the transition process having led to substantial withdrawals from the labour market;
  • support the restructuring of the economy via labour market structures which enable employees to adapt to economic change and move from declining to modern industries;
  • increase skill levels among the workforce in order to improve productivity and competitiveness.

The Commission has translated the candidate countries’ challenges into areas of action:

  • promoting employment via developments in wages and tax and benefit systems;
  • investing in human resources and addressing skills gaps by reforming education and lifelong learning systems;
  • enabling the public employment services, which are essential in periods of economic restructuring and transition, to play an effective role;
  • promoting a more proactive and preventive policy approach;
  • ensuring social cohesion by integrating ethnic minorities, most of whom are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market, and some — Roma in particular –are at high risk of social exclusion and poverty;
  • modernising the labour market with an active contribution from the social partners, in particular in relation to work organisation, working conditions, flexibility and security;
  • promoting gender equality on the labour market in the candidate countries, where there is a significant degree of discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • strengthening the administrative capacity necessary for developing and implementing employment policy, which is part of the overall economic policy strategy, and paying particular attention to the preparations for implementing the European Social Fund (ESF);
  • ensuring availability of resources for employment policies, including human capital investment and social infrastructure.

Next steps

The cooperation process will conclude when the candidate countries join the Union. Before the date of accession, they must draw up national development plans (NDPs) setting the framework for employment and human resources development and for future ESF funding. Each candidate country must also carry out an in-depth review of policies, of the institutional setting and of administrative capacities for employment policy and related ESF activities. Since 2003 the candidate countries have been participating in the “Employment Incentives Measures”.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 6 November 2003, entitled “Progress in implementing the Joint Assessment Papers on employment policies in acceding countries” [COM(2003) 663 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Following the reviews which took place in the acceding countries in the spring and summer of 2003, the European Commission has updated the assessment of the strategic challenges for the labour markets of the ten acceding countries and the progress made in terms of policy response and administrative capacities for employment policy and ESF activities for these countries.

The Commission stresses the need for coordination in drafting and implementing employment policies. It has taken the opportunity to set out the elements of governance and partnership needed in order to implement the European Employment Strategy, and states its concerns regarding the administrative resources required to ensure full use of the Structural Funds.

The Commission thus concludes the cooperation process with the ten accession countries based on the Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs). Following their accession, the new Member States will participate in the European Employment Strategy and will submit their first National Action Plan (NAP) to the Commission in October 2004.


Another Normative about Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Joint assessments of employment policies in the candidate countries

As part of the cooperation process with the candidate countries on employment, the Commission has set out the challenges identified, the progress made and the measures which still need to be taken.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 30 January 2003, entitled “Progress on the implementation of the Joint Assessment Papers on employment policies in candidate countries” [COM(2003) 37 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs)

With a view to joining the European Union, the candidate countries must adopt the Community acquis. It is the task of the European Commission to assist them in this and to monitor their progress.

To this end, in 1999 the European Commission initiated a cooperation process with the candidate countries in the area of employment. Together, in Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs), they identified the employment policy challenges resulting from applying the Lisbon objectives and from implementation of the Employment Title of the Treaty establishing the European Community. EU financial support for accession can thus focus on the priorities identified.

The European Commission provides a summary of the challenges identified in the JAPs and carries out a preliminary review of progress made in implementing them.

Challenges encountered by the candidate countries

In their progress towards achieving the objectives of the European Employment Strategy, the candidate countries encounter many challenges in transforming their labour markets — made more complex by economic restructuring — and in policy development.

The candidate countries must therefore:

  • increase employment rates, which are generally below the EU average and lower than the Lisbon objectives;
  • increase labour supply, the transition process having led to substantial withdrawals from the labour market;
  • support the restructuring of the economy via labour market structures which enable employees to adapt to economic change and move from declining to modern industries;
  • increase skill levels among the workforce in order to improve productivity and competitiveness.

The Commission has translated the candidate countries’ challenges into areas of action:

  • promoting employment via developments in wages and tax and benefit systems;
  • investing in human resources and addressing skills gaps by reforming education and lifelong learning systems;
  • enabling the public employment services, which are essential in periods of economic restructuring and transition, to play an effective role;
  • promoting a more proactive and preventive policy approach;
  • ensuring social cohesion by integrating ethnic minorities, most of whom are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market, and some — Roma in particular –are at high risk of social exclusion and poverty;
  • modernising the labour market with an active contribution from the social partners, in particular in relation to work organisation, working conditions, flexibility and security;
  • promoting gender equality on the labour market in the candidate countries, where there is a significant degree of discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • strengthening the administrative capacity necessary for developing and implementing employment policy, which is part of the overall economic policy strategy, and paying particular attention to the preparations for implementing the European Social Fund (ESF);
  • ensuring availability of resources for employment policies, including human capital investment and social infrastructure.

Next steps

The cooperation process will conclude when the candidate countries join the Union. Before the date of accession, they must draw up national development plans (NDPs) setting the framework for employment and human resources development and for future ESF funding. Each candidate country must also carry out an in-depth review of policies, of the institutional setting and of administrative capacities for employment policy and related ESF activities. Since 2003 the candidate countries have been participating in the “Employment Incentives Measures”.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 6 November 2003, entitled “Progress in implementing the Joint Assessment Papers on employment policies in acceding countries” [COM(2003) 663 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Following the reviews which took place in the acceding countries in the spring and summer of 2003, the European Commission has updated the assessment of the strategic challenges for the labour markets of the ten acceding countries and the progress made in terms of policy response and administrative capacities for employment policy and ESF activities for these countries.

The Commission stresses the need for coordination in drafting and implementing employment policies. It has taken the opportunity to set out the elements of governance and partnership needed in order to implement the European Employment Strategy, and states its concerns regarding the administrative resources required to ensure full use of the Structural Funds.

The Commission thus concludes the cooperation process with the ten accession countries based on the Joint Assessment Papers (JAPs). Following their accession, the new Member States will participate in the European Employment Strategy and will submit their first National Action Plan (NAP) to the Commission in October 2004.

Taking stock of five years of the EES: mid-term review

Taking stock of five years of the EES: mid-term review

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Taking stock of five years of the EES: mid-term review

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Taking stock of five years of the EES: mid-term review (2002)

In this Communication the Commission provides a mid-term review of the European Employment Strategy. Based on national evaluations following a common thematic breakdown, the review notes clear structural improvements, viz. the creation of employment, the decline in unemployment and increase in labour force participation. The review stresses that progress has also been made as regards the modernisation of work organisation, inclusion and equity, and recognises the added value of the new method of coordinating national employment policies. However, the Commission recommends taking into account population ageing, regional disparities and globalisation, and the widening of the European Union.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 July 2002: taking stock of the five years of the European Employment Strategy [COM (2002) 416 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Launched by the Luxembourg Jobs Summit in 1997 (the so-called Luxembourg process) and reinforced by the Lisbon strategy, the European Employment Strategy (EES) was initially established with a view to ameliorating the European labour market within five years, in particular in the field of long-term and youth unemployment. The Commission is active in four main areas:

  • employability, progressively widened to cover the whole life cycle, covering the prevention of early school leaving, prevention of unemployment, increasing access to an inclusive labour market, and continued updating of skills;
  • entrepreneurship, including improvement of the business environment and reductions of the tax burden on labour by lowering, inter alia, social security contributions;
  • adaptability, the creation of more flexible employment, introduction of more flexible working time arrangements in concertation with the social partners, and finding a balance between flexibility and security;
  • equal opportunities and reduction of gender gaps on the labour market, reconciliation of work and family life, increasing the availability of childcare provision.

Trends in the labour market during the second half of the 1990s show reductions in levels of structural unemployment throughout the European Union, a more employment-intensive pattern of economic growth, a link between productivity and the level of education, and the rising responsiveness of employment with the development of contracts of limited duration.

This Communication reviews the experience of the five years of the EES and draws conclusions as to how it can be reformed. The review notes a clear structural improvement in the labour market between 1997-2001, including:

  • the creation of 10 million jobs (+6.5%), of which 6 million were taken up by women;
  • a decline in unemployment by more than 4 million (-25%);
  • growth of 5 million in terms of labour force participation, driven largely by women;
  • reduction in the gender gap from 20% to 18% as regards the employment rate and from 12% to 9% as regards the unemployment rate;
  • reduction in the overall tax burden on labour of about 2% and even 3% for the low-paid (provisionally based on the implicit tax rate).

The Communication also notes that the new method of coordinating national policies, the so-called open method of coordination, or OMC, was very effective in creating a European employment area. The political commitment of the Member States translates into the National Action Plans (NAPs), first by reducing unemployment and subsequently by defining long-term employment objectives.

However, considerable structural problems and challenges persist:

  • a reduction in the number of unemployed, of which 42% are long-term unemployed (almost 13 million in 2001);
  • achievement of a 70% employment rate, chiefly by integrating women and older workers;
  • improvement in productivity rates (the gap between the US and the EU rose from 17.3% to 19.5% between 1996 and 2001);
  • reduction in major regional disparities, notably in terms of unemployment, in several Member States.

To this end, the Commission has identified four main issues to be explored with a view to reforming the EES:

  • responding to medium-term challenges: the context of the EES is changing and requires a response to the ageing workforce, the sustainability of social protection systems, the challenges of the information society and social inequalities. The Commission stresses the need to create more and better jobs which are also more productive. For the Commission, the reduction in disparities between different groups is a matter both of equity and efficiency. Besides, investment in human resources, skills development and lifelong training is necessary with a view to improving the performance of the European labour market. The modernisation of employment services is important with a view to finding jobs for the greatest possible number of unemployed persons and avoiding the emergence of bottlenecks.
  • simplifying the guidelines (without undermining their effectiveness): this is a matter of clarifying priorities via a clearer definition of the overall improvements and the results to be achieved, with a focus on implementation of the employment guidelines. This would facilitate communication with all the stakeholders and enable more effective monitoring. However, the Commission insists that the guidelines must keep their wide policy scope, to be developed in close articulation with macro-economic policies and structural policies, which are favourable to growth and competitiveness, as well as policies promoting social inclusion. It is also important to ensure greater stability of the guidelines because the regular addition of new priorities or objectives does not improve effectiveness. The principle of annual reporting by the Member States, which makes it possible to ensure effective multilateral surveillance and which represent ‘pressure towards convergence’, should be respected.
  • improving cooperation between the different EES actors: the social partners have been urged to place their strategies in the various territorial and sectoral spheres at the service of the Lisbon strategy and the Commission will consult them when preparing the next guidelines. It is also a matter of mobilising actors at all relevant territorial levels, since competences for different aspects of employment policies are shared between different territorial levels. Better coordination is also necessary at national level between the employment services, the employment departments and those dealing with financial affairs, training and education, gender opportunities, social security, justice and home affairs and information society affairs. The Commission encourages greater transparency so as to give a full picture of how the European Structural Funds (ESF) support the Employment Strategy, besides alignment of the ESF objectives with the EES priorities.
  • improving consistency and complementarity between other European processes, notably the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs): the Barcelona European Council of 2002 called for a synchronisation of the Employment Package of the BEPGs, which will be the subject of a Communication from the Commission on improving the mutually supportive character of the two sets of instruments.

The social partners were progressively involved in the different pillars of the Luxembourg process before a horizontal objective called on the Member States to develop a comprehensive partnership. They have since become involved in the preparation of the NAPs. Local and regional authorities have also been involved in the EES via regional and local action plans (RAPs and LAPs), whether as social services providers or local employers.

The Communication was intended as an input to the debate in 2003 on the future of the EES, which included all the stakeholders and led to a proposal for Employment Guidelines for 2003.

The annex to the Communication explains the evaluation methodology and contains a review of key policy changes in relation to the EES on a country-by-country basis.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 13 November 2002 on the joint employment report 2002 [COM(2002) 621 – not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission noted that the European Union’s labour market performance, in terms of both employment (+ 0,6%) and unemployment (- 0,6%), continued to improve in 2001, although the prevailing economic slowdown meant that the Member States would have to step up their efforts to reform the labour markets in order to help both workers and firms to adapt to change. The Commission emphasises that much progress is required as regards the three key priorities of raising employment and participation rates, improving quality and productivity at work, and promoting an inclusive labour market.

Communication from the Commission of 3 September 2002 on streamlining of the annual coordination cycles of economic and employment policy [COM(2002) 487 final – not published in the Official Journal.]

Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy

Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Community employment policies

Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy (2003)

Presented by the Commission as a document for discussion with a view to revising the EES in 2003, the purpose of this Communication is to present an outline for the new employment strategy complemented by examples of existing concrete objectives and considerations and suggestions for possible new targets. It introduces a new generation of guidelines. A subsequent revision is envisaged in 2005 in the framework of revising the Lisbon Strategy.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 14 January 2003, on the future of the European Employment Strategy (EES) “A strategy for full employment and better jobs for all” [COM (2003) 6 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication supplements the five-year review of the European Employment Strategy (EES). Given that the EES constitutes a key component of the Lisbon agenda, the Commission stresses that it will contribute to responding to medium and longer term challenges which the European Union will have to face, notably via a new generation of employment guidelines.

The core of the Commission’s recommendations consists in a simplification of the guidelines, the definition of quantified targets, better coordination of policies and mobilisation of the different players involved in implementing the EES.

Hence, the new guidelines should include three overall objectives:

  • full employment by raising the employment rate overall (67% in 2005 and 70% in 2010 on average for the EU), for women (respectively 57% and 60%) and for older workers (50% in 2010);
  • quality and productivity at work: closely correlated, quality includes in particular satisfaction with pay and working conditions, health and safety at the work place, the availability of flexible work organisation, working time arrangements and the balance between flexibility and security;
  • cohesion and an inclusive labour market for all persons wanting to work (23 million jobseekers in 2001; the employment rate of the 38 million disabled does not reach 40%).

In order to achieve these overall targets, the Commission proposes:

  • introducing or reinforcing active and preventive measures for the unemployed and the inactive by making the right offer to the right person at the right time, by early identification of the needs of each jobseeker and by a personalised action plan with a view to sustainable integration. Particular attention should be paid to youth unemployment and long-term unemployment;
  • making work pay by reviewing the tax/benefit systems with a view to eliminating unemployment and poverty traps, encouraging women to enter, remain in or reintegrate into the labour market and retaining older workers longer in employment;
  • fostering entrepreneurship to create more and better jobs notably by improving awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option mainly among the unemployed, women, young people and inactive persons, as well as by reducing barriers to the hiring of staff, especially in small firms;
  • transforming undeclared work into regular employment by increasing awareness as to the negative effects of undeclared work, simplifying procedures and legislation, lowering the tax burden on labour, effective surveillance and sanctions;
  • promoting active ageing to keep workers longer in employment notably by improving quality in work;
  • developing and reinforcing immigration policy with a view to the successful integration of migrants;
  • promoting adaptability in the labour market, via different contractual or working time arrangements, by encouraging access to training and by negotiations between the social partners;
  • promotion of investment in human capital and strategies for lifelong learning by re-directing public expenditure so as to increase efficiency in these areas, by raising the level of education and by closer involvement of companies in adult education;
  • promoting gender equality by conducting systematic gender impact assessment for new policy proposals, by increasing female participation in key areas such as higher education and research, by promoting structures which enable women to keep their jobs, such as childcare facilities;
  • supporting integration and combating discrimination in the labour market for people at a disadvantage, for example because of illness, ethnic origin, family situation, age, place of residence, etc.;
  • addressing regional employment disparities via a targeted policy focusing on the quality of human resources, investment in skills, education and lifelong learning and partnerships at local and regional level to promote job creation and address skill gaps.

Examples of indicators and quantified targets for the EES are provided in the annex to this Communication.

The operational services that play a particularly important role in implementing the objectives are the employment services, the social re-integration services, the training services and the labour inspectorates. Invited to present an annual report on their contributions at European, national, regional and local level, the social partners have also been closely involved in implementing the EES.

The Berlin European Council of 1999 established the European Social Fund (ESF) as a key financial instrument to support the EES, but it is necessary to take account of trends in regional and national labour markets when implementing the Structural Fund programmes.

Related Acts

Council Resolution of 6 February 2003 on Social Inclusion – through social dialogue and partnership [Official Journal of C 39 of 18.02.2003].