Tag Archives: Community employment policy

Action plan for skills and mobility

Action plan for skills and mobility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan for skills and mobility

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

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

Action plan for skills and mobility

Document or Iniciative

Communication of 13 February 2002 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility [COM(2002) 72 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Action Plan addresses the need to increase the occupational mobility (i.e. changing jobs) of workers from the poorer regions to those of the wealthier regions of the European Union. At present, only 0.1 % of the European population have established their official residence in another country in 2000, and only 1.2 % moved to another region to live in 1999. This low level of geographical mobility is particularly serious when it restricts the occupational mobility of the less advanced regions.

The Action Plan not only identifies the three basic challenges to be addressed, namely the challenge of inadequate occupational mobility, the low levels of geographical mobility and the difficulty of access to information on mobility, but also sets out priority areas for action.

Priority areas for action

The Commission plans to carry out, with full respect for the principle of subsidiarity, priority actions which will address the major challenges of occupational mobility, geographical mobility and lack of information.

To ensure substantial progress in worker mobility in Europe between now and 2005, the Commission proposes the following action priorities:

  • expanding occupational mobility and skills development;
  • improving information and transparency of job opportunities;
  • facilitating geographical mobility.

Expanding occupational mobility and skills development involves:

  • promoting access for all citizens to education and training, notably free access to the acquisition of key skills, regardless of age. Creation of European seals of quality for better ICT-based education systems;
  • encouraging students, particularly girls, to study mathematics, science and technology;
  • improving general education levels, and more specifically integrating into the education systems disabled youngsters, those with learning difficulties and those from immigrant communities or from ethnic minorities;
  • creating a better interface between the world of education and the world of work. Creation of a network to ensure communication between bodies operating in the private sector and the educational sector;
  • getting workers, particularly older workers, into in-house training programmes offered by their employers, and offering incentives both to employers and to workers in order to achieve this;
  • rewarding companies and public sector organisations which introduce particularly innovative education and lifelong learning strategies;
  • developing transparent ICT skills definitions based on European-wide standards and on validation and recognition schemes;
  • better monitoring of the demand for ICT skills, taking account of the requirements of the world of work, and creation of detailed skills profiles;
  • developing a European framework for the evaluation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning and work experience;
  • pursuing the further development of instruments such as the Europass, the European CV and the European portfolio by 2003, and at the same time developing a system for accumulation of qualifications acquired in different establishments and different countries;
  • making more funds available for investment in human resources.

Facilitating geographical mobility involves:

  • maintaining rights to reside and work in another Member State, including workers’ social security rights;
  • creating an EU health insurance card. The Commission proposes introducing an electronic card to replace the existing E 111 insurance form, whereby cardholders would be entitled to health care anywhere in the European Union and to reimbursement of the costs by their own Member State;
  • creating transferable supplementary pension rights;
  • clarifying and simplifying recognition of qualifications for the regulated professions. The regulated professions are covered by a series of Directives. This series of Directives is soon to be replaced by a single, consolidated Directive covering all the regulated professions;
  • intensifying efforts to create an internal market for the provision of cross-border services and to remove the obstacles to freedom of establishment;
  • reforming the tax-benefit systems to promote regional mobility within Member States;
  • introduce the teaching of foreign languages as early as possible, for example by the age of 8, so that students are competent in at least two foreign European languages by the time they finish their compulsory schooling (at age 16 or 18) ;
  • encouraging students to undertake a significant proportion (e.g. one third) of their higher education in another Member State;
  • creating a European system of voluntary quality standards in education and training, in order to promote mobility in the non-regulated professions;
  • abolishing, in collective agreements, local, regional or national restrictions relating to qualifications;
  • defining an EU-wide immigration policy. Granting third-country nationals residing in a Member State European rights comparable to those granted to EU citizens, especially as regards residence, employment and social security rights.

Improving information and transparency of job opportunities:

  • creating a one-stop Internet site on European Mobility, a more comprehensive information service for the regulated professions. An EU portal devoted to learning opportunities will be set up by the end of 2002. At present, practical information covering the rights of citizens to live and work in other Member States as well as other rights and opportunities within the EU can be accessed on Europe Direct which also provides links to national, regional and local information and advice bodies;
  • developing EURES (the European online jobseeking system) and developing a comparable jobs classification system, so that EURES becomes an everyday tool of the national employment services;
  • launching an EU-wide mobility information campaign, as well as sectorally focused information campaigns.

The Commission will assess the implementation of the Action Plan annually, at the springtime European Summit.

Background

Achieving the objectives established in Lisbon in March 2000 of more and better jobs, greater social cohesion and the creation of a European area of knowledge requires a skilled and adaptable labour force on more open and more accessible European labour markets. This Action Plan calls for Member States, enterprises and workers themselves to be more responsive to the new requirements of the labour market and also sets the European governments a concrete short-term objective, namely the creation of an EU health insurance card.

Following the Communication on the New European Labour Markets, which launched the debate on mobility at the Stockholm European Council of March 2001, the Commission instructed a high level task force to produce a report, which forms the basis of this Action Plan.

The Action Plan also draws on the new EU initiatives designed to create a European Area of Lifelong Learning and to contribute to the mobility of citizens (see in particular the Recommendation of the Council and the European Parliament on mobility and the associated Action Plan, to which Member States have agreed).

To achieve the objective of creating more open and more accessible labour markets in the EU by 2005, the Commission will ensure that this Action Plan is reflected in the forthcoming review of the European Employment Strategy and in any initiative to establish a European Area of Lifelong Learning.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 January 2007 – Final Report on the Implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2007) 24 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission evaluates the execution of the action plan, particularly in the light of the 2004 report, some of whose actions have only just been implemented, and the new integrated economic and employment guidelines 2005-2008.
The action plan helps move towards a European labour market that is open and accessible to all in the context of:

  • expanding occupational mobility and skills based on a series of benchmarks adopted by the Council in May 2003 to be achieved by 2010. A number of actions have been carried out since 2004 such as, in the field of research, the launch of the ” Researchers in Europe Initiative ” and the adoption of the European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers in 2005 [PDF ]. In addition, the recognition of qualifications and competences has been consolidated through Europass which provides a single framework for their transparency and transferability and through the ongoing compilation of a European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for non-regulated professions. In the field of information and communication technology (ICT), better understanding about the nature and structure of ICT practitioner skills should be fostered by the European ICT skills Meta-Framework which is currently being compiled. In this context, lifelong learning and continuing training should also be given support, particularly by developing comprehensive lifelong learning strategies by the end of 2006;
  • facilitating geographic mobility. Progress is being made here with the adoption of the European Health Insurance Card, the co-ordination of Social Security Schemes, the recognition of professional qualifications for regulated professions, the European Quality Charter for mobility, the reduction of barriers in the field of supplementary pension schemes or residence in the EU of third-country researchers. On a more general basis, the EU has adopted immigration policy measures at Community level in order to simplify the movement and residence of European citizens and their families on EU territory (Directive 2004/38/EC). At the same time, work is continuing on managing economic migration at Community level (Green Paper in January 2005 and communication from the Commission on a policy plan on legal migration);
  • Improving information and transparency of job opportunities. These should be enhanced by the “Your Europe” portal which provides information for workers, students and businesses or by the EURES portal which now gives direct access to all job vacancies published by the public employment services. In addition, Eracareers, the European Researcher’s Mobility portal, offers them a personalised assistance service through Eramore which covers 200 mobility centres located in over 30 countries;

There are nonetheless a number of challenges which require an appropriate response in order to strengthen the implementation of the action plan and guarantee that Europeans are aware of the professional and geographical changes, particularly as regards their rights and opportunities. The main challenges relate to:

  • lifelong learning, especially the development of coherent and comprehensive strategies open to all, as well as incentives and cost-sharing mechanisms so as to enhance the adaptability and flexibility of the workforce in accordance with the Employment Guidelines and the Community Lisbon Programme;
  • ICT skills with more investment in EU core comparative and competitive advantages and attention to factual information when debating the issues at stake;
  • removing the legal, administrative and cultural obstacles to mobility in order to create a genuine European labour market. The work on non regulated professions should therefore continue and new initiatives be developed in areas such as language skills or appropriate training prior to mobility which form part of the new global approach put forward in the 2006 Annual Progress Report. The latter calls for a new partnership between the Commission and the Member States in order to meet the global challenges of more and better jobs;
  • a framework for economic migration to turn this into a key asset for the economic and social development of Europe and the competitiveness of EU enterprises;
  • an integrated approach to mobility in line with the Community Lisbon Programme and the new Employment Guidelines (2005-2008).

Recommendation (EC) No 2006/961 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on transnational mobility within the Community for education and training purposes: European Quality Charter for Mobility [Official Journal L 394, 30.12.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 6 February 2004 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Report on the Implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2004) 66 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Against a background of general slowdown in economic activity (in 2002, growth in GDP in the EU was around 1 %, whereas it was forecast at 0.8 % in 2003), the consequent reduction in job vacancies is likely to reduce the propensity to move between jobs and may therefore have a negative impact on overall mobility rates. In 2002, for example, a lower proportion of employees (16.4 %) had been with the same employer for less then one year in 2002 than had been the case in 2000 (17.5 %).

Nevertheless, in weighing up the positive and negative aspects so far, the report points out that occupational mobility has benefited from the adoption of a series of benchmarks by the Council to be achieved by 2010, and a Europass framework to support the transparency and transferability of qualifications. Despite the slow progress on the draft directive to streamline the recognition of qualifications, and on the draft Directive on immigration for work-related purposes, the potential for geographic mobility has been moved forward, in particular thanks to the European Health Insurance Card and improved coordination of social security rights. Information and the transparency of job opportunities have also been encouraged by positive measures such as the opening of the European Job Mobility Portal, the launch of the mobility information campaign and the modernisation of EURES.

The Commission also underlines the growing importance being attached to these issues in the current Employment Guidelines and the associated work under the Education and Training programme. The new European Employment Strategy, agreed by the Council on 22 July 2003, calls upon the Member States to improve, in particular, the recognition and transparency of qualifications and competences and the transferability of social security and pension rights, providing appropriate incentives in tax and benefit systems, and taking into account labour market aspects of immigration. It also calls for job-seekers throughout the EU to be able, by 2005, to consult all job vacancies advertised through the Member States’ employment services. The Member States are further encouraged to implement lifelong learning strategies geared closely to the future objectives of the education and training systems.

Finally, the Commission identifies the areas in which action is still needed, namely:

  • Developing skills in the context of lifelong education and training, in particular in the area of ICT;
  • Promoting effective access for adults, whether in employment or job seekers, to further vocational training;
  • Equipping young people with the basic skills relevant to the labour market and needed to participate in lifelong learning;
  • Promoting initiatives helping workers to enter, remain and progress on the labour market;
  • Increasing, where appropriate, the transferability of social security rights, including pensions, across the European Union.

It is, however, important to continue to overcome obstacles to occupational and geographic mobility.

Council Resolution of 3 June 2002 on skills and mobility [Official Journal C 162 of 06.07.2002].

The Community Lisbon Programme

The Community Lisbon Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Community Lisbon Programme

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Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

The Community Lisbon Programme

In July 2005 the Commission proposed establishing a Community Lisbon Programme in response to the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the European Union. The programme contains three objectives and eight key actions.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 20 July 2005 – Common Actions for Growth and Employment: The Community Lisbon Programme [COM(2005) 330 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

At present, Europe needs to turn the challenges it is facing (ageing populations, increasing global competition, technological change, environmental pressures) into new opportunities.

Europe’s economy needs to be modernised and lasting solutions proposed, against a background of sound macroeconomic policies to secure the European social model.

The European Council invited the Commission to present, as a counterpart to the national programmes, a “Community Lisbon Programme” covering all actions at Community level. The policy measures proposed under this programme fall under three main areas:

  • supporting knowledge and innovation;
  • making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work;
  • creating more and better jobs.

The Commission proposes that these objectives be included within the Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund programmes. The new Rural Development Fund is a good example, as it focuses on investment in people, innovation, know-how, take-up of information technologies in rural areas and rural diversification.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund also contribute funding to Community Lisbon Programme initiatives.

Supporting knowledge and innovation

Investment needs to be higher (the target is 3% of gross domestic product) and more efficient (pooling of resources) in order to stimulate competitive European research. This is essentially the responsibility of the Member States.

The Commission also supports knowledge and innovation in Europe via financing instruments and effective regulation. For the period 2007-2013 there are two major financing instruments at Community level:

  • support for innovative initiatives for the European economy. The programme proposes in particular strategic public/private partnerships in fields of major interest for competitiveness. It also helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from research;
  • the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme will promote the use of ICTs and environmental technologies in businesses.

Other financial instruments are as follows:

  • the Trans-European Network budget lines support the practical application of RTD knowledge programmes. This knowledge may be applied to industrial projects designed to reduce congestion in transport;
  • the Environmental Technologies Action Plan is designed to promote the development and application of such technologies, which have significant economic and environmental potential. The Structural Funds and the EIB support the Action Plan.

The Agreement on the Community Patent remains a vital element in promoting a knowledge-driven, innovative economy. The Community will support efforts to maintain a strong industrial capacity where the Member States alone cannot successfully address research, regulatory and financing challenges at European level.

The Commission proposes simplifying the administrative framework for State aid and targeting this State aid towards knowledge and innovation, training, mobility and clustering. The new regulatory framework will facilitate the granting of State aid to SMEs and to young and innovative companies, not only through direct financial support, but also by facilitating access to risk capital funding. The new rules will ensure that State aid is granted only where spillovers for society are significant and competitive conditions are not distorted.

Making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work

To facilitate market access it is important to improve the regulatory environment and to complete the internal market.

Improving the quality of legislation can create the right incentives for business, cutting costs and removing obstacles to adaptation and innovation. Taking account of SMEs’ concerns, the Commission will continue its work on:

  • assessing the impact of all new policy initiatives;
  • thorough screening of proposals which have been pending for some time before the Council/Parliament;
  • simplification of existing legislation by means of sectoral action plans.

The internal market for services must be made fully operational, while preserving the European social model. Given the current importance of the services sector in terms of job creation and added value in the EU, adoption of the Services Directive could lead to an increase in the employment rate and in the EU’s gross domestic product.

The Commission also intends to:

  • publish guidelines in order to promote effective and high-quality Services of General Economic Interest (following up on its White Paper on this subject);
  • target the financial assistance available towards projects related to the development of the trans-European transport network;
  • coordinate 45 “quick-start” cross-border projects for transport, energy and broadband networks, R&D and innovation, provided that the Member States embark upon a planning and financing process;
  • try to achieve an agreement on a common corporate tax base for businesses operating in several Member States with different tax rules.

The full integration of financial markets may facilitate more efficient capital distribution. The rules are in place, but the barriers to market entry now need to be removed.

To ensure that markets are competitive both within and outside Europe, the Commission recently embarked upon its agenda for external competitiveness. This agenda comprises initiatives relating to market access, European policy towards China, public procurement, trade defence instruments, greater recognition of intellectual property rights and a new generation of bilateral trade relations. It highlights the European Union’s commitment to the World Trade Organisation.

Creating more and better jobs

The Commission supports Member States’ efforts in the areas of human capital, education and vocational training, for example by means of:

  • the European Youth Pact;
  • the ‘Education and Training 2010’ Programme;
  • the Lifelong Learning Programme;
  • the establishment of a European Institute of Technology;
  • assisting Member States in the development of active ageing strategies.

The Commission will also complement the efforts of the Member States to achieve the objectives at the core of the Social Agenda. To this end, it calls on the European social partners to play a leading role.

To create a truly pan-European labour market, it is necessary to eliminate obstacles to mobility. The Commission will propose a European Qualifications Framework, creating the conditions for transparency and mutual trust.

The Commission will work towards a common framework for managing economic migration, comprising accelerated admission procedures for long-term stays of third-country researchers and the facilitation of short-stay visas.

Restructuring is an inevitable consequence of economic progress and market integration. However, it may have a destabilising effect on the people concerned. The Commission wants to establish a new fund to help the people and regions most adversely affected by the restructuring to cope with the changes. It will also follow up on its Communication on restructuring and employment.

Background

The Community Lisbon Programme is the Community’s contribution to the partnership for growth and employment, which was established by the renewed Lisbon strategy. The idea of the partnership is to create synergies between Community and national decision-making levels with a view to increased, stable growth and more and better jobs.

Like the Member States’ reform programmes, the Community Programme is thus in line with the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs, set out by the Council in June 2005. However, it concerns mainly measures with clear added value, complementing national measures.

A report (EN) (pdf ) on progress in implementing the Community Lisbon Programme was presented on 23 October 2006.

Every year the Commission carries out a review of the Lisbon Strategy in an annual activity report, which covers the implementation of the partnership for growth and employment at Community and national levels.

Related Acts

Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.2006].

The draft Community strategic guidelines for cohesion, growth and employment were adopted by the Council on 6 October 2006. These strategic guidelines provide the indicative framework for implementation of the cohesion policy and assistance from the Funds during the period 2007-2013.

Council Decision 2006/144/EC of 20 February 2006 on Community strategic guidelines for rural development (programming period 2007 to 2013) [Official Journal L 55 of 25.2.2006].

Reports

Communication from the Commission to the European Council of 11 December 2007 ‘Strategic Report on the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: launching the new cycle (2008-2010), Part I [COM(2007) 803 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Based on the results of the first cycle of reforms under the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, the Commission is presenting a series of actions with a view to launching the second cycle (2008-2010) and achieving the strategy’s objectives. To this end, various measures to be implemented in partnership between the Community and the Member States are envisaged in four priority areas: investing in knowledge and innovation; unlocking the business potential, especially of SMEs; investing in people and modernising labour markets; and transforming Europe into a low carbon and energy-efficient economy

Communication from the Commission of 12 December 2006 to the Spring European Council – “
A year of delivery
” – Part I: Implementing the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs [COM(2006) 816 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In the run-up to the launch in 2008 of the second cycle of the strategy for growth and jobs, the Commission reviews the implementation of the strategy, giving an overview of the progress made at Community level and in each Member State. This Communication evaluates macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment policies. The Commission reviews the implementation of the NRPs and calls on all Member States to step up their efforts with regard to the four priorities: investment in knowledge and innovation; business potential (especially of SMEs); the modernisation of labour markets; energy and climate change. Overall, Member States’ progress has been promising. However, in the Commission’s view many Member States could take stronger action in areas such as long-term sustainability of public finances, labour market reform, R&D, climate and energy policies, innovation and competition.

Communication from the Commission of 25 January 2006 to the Spring European Council – “
Time to move up a gear
” – Part I: The new partnership for growth and jobs [COM(2006) 30 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Education and Training 2020

Education and Training 2020

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Education and Training 2020

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Education training youth sport > Education and training: general framework

Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020)

Document or Iniciative

Council Conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) [Official Journal C 119 of 28.5.2009].

Summary

These conclusions provide for a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training up until 2020. This framework builds on the achievements of the “Education and Training 2010” (ET 2010) work programme, with a view to responding to the challenges that remain in creating a knowledge-based Europe and making lifelong learning a reality for all.

The main aim of the framework is to support Member States in further developing their educational and training systems. These systems should better provide the means for all citizens to realise their potentials, as well as ensure sustainable economic prosperity and employability. The framework should take into consideration the whole spectrum of education and training systems from a lifelong learning perspective, covering all levels and contexts (including non-formal and informal learning).

The conclusions set out four strategic objectives for the framework:

  • making lifelong learning and mobility a reality – progress is needed in the implementation of lifelong learning strategies, the development of national qualifications frameworks linked to the European Qualifications Framework and more flexible learning pathways. Mobility should be expanded and the European Quality Charter for Mobility should be applied;
  • improving the quality and efficiency of education and training – all citizens need to be able to acquire key competencies and all levels of education and training need to be made more attractive and efficient;
  • promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship – education and training should enable all citizens to acquire and develop skills and competencies needed for their employability and foster further learning, active citizenship and intercultural dialogue. Educational disadvantage should be addressed through high quality inclusive and early education;
  • enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training – the acquisition of transversal competences by all citizens should be promoted and the functioning of the knowledge triangle (education-research-innovation) should be ensured. Partnerships between enterprises and educational institutions as well as broader learning communities with civil society and other stakeholders should be promoted.

In order to measure progress achieved on these objectives, they are accompanied by indicators and European benchmarks (set out in Annex I of the conclusions).

A set of principles are also provided that should be observed when working towards the objectives mentioned above. This includes the implementation of European cooperation in education and training from a lifelong learning perspective, whereby the open method of coordination (OMC) is used more effectively and synergies are developed between the different sectors involved. European cooperation in education and training should be cross-sectoral as well as transparent, thus involving the related policy areas and all relevant stakeholders. The outcomes from the cooperation should be disseminated and reviewed regularly. Greater compatibility with both the Copenhagen and Bologna processes and stronger dialogue and cooperation with third countries and international organisations should also be aimed at.

With a view of having effective and flexible working methods for European cooperation in education and training, the framework provides for a series of work cycles up to 2020, the first covering the period 2009-11. A number of priority areas are adopted for each cycle on the basis of the above-mentioned strategic objectives. Annex II sets out the priority areas for the first cycle. The cooperation should be carried out through mutual learning initiatives, for which clear mandates, schedules and planned outputs are established. The results of the cooperation are to be widely disseminated among policy makers and stakeholders in order to improve visibility and impact. A joint Council-Commission progress report should be drawn up at the end of each cycle, which will also contribute to the establishment of the priority areas for the next cycle. Together with Member States, the Commission will monitor cooperation in education and training.

Member States should work together using the OMC, with a view to developing European cooperation in education and training based on the above-mentioned strategic objectives, principles and working methods. At the same time, Member States should adopt national measures to attain the strategic objectives as well as to contribute to the achievement of the European benchmarks.

The Commission is invited to support cooperation between Member States, evaluate the progress made on the objectives and the benchmarks, as well as to continue work on benchmarks for mobility, employability and language learning. Furthermore, the Commission, together with the Member States, should examine how the coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks based on the ET 2010 work programme could be harmonised with the ET 2020.

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

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Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 November 2010 – An agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment [COM(2010) 682 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission establishes a flagship initiative in the area of participation in labour markets and vocational skills. In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy this initiative contributes to the joint efforts of the Member States aimed at increasing by 75 % the employment rate of women and men for the 20-64 years age group by 2020.

It is essential to meet this target in order to ensure the sustainability of the welfare systems, economic growth and public finances of EU countries.

Improving the functioning of labour markets

The effective implementation of the common principles of flexicurity contributes to the proper functioning of labour markets and the reduction of structural unemployment. The principles of flexicurity must be strengthened in order to reduce divisions in labour markets and to support their transition.

To this end, this initiative favours:

  • a joint approach by EU institutions, Member States and social partners, to strengthen policy and establish principles of flexicurity;
  • the development of workers’ skills throughout their working life, in particular by means of adapted financing;
  • social partners’ participation at European level.

In addition, the Commission proposes to involve all stakeholders in order to monitor and manage flexicurity, particularly public and private employment and training services and civil society organisations.

Upgrading workers’ skills

Workers’ skills must be adapted to the changes in European society, particularly in the sectors of innovation, new technologies, the environment and health. Education and training systems must respond to these changes, cooperating with business and developing work-based learning.

In this context, the European Commission recommends a series of key actions:

  • creating an online skills Panorama, presenting changes in, and the needs of, the EU labour market;
  • establishing the European Skills, Competences and Occupations classification (ESCO);
  • reforming systems for the recognition of professional qualifications;
  • launching an Agenda for Integration of third country nationals, to valorise their skills and training;
  • encouraging geographical mobility, by improving the enforcement of the principle of free movement of workers in the EU.

These actions must be accompanied by an assessment of school curricula, the employability of students and the development of some professional sectors, as well as support for informal learning.

Improving the quality of work and working conditions

The quality of working conditions enables workers’ potential to be developed and business competitiveness to be enhanced.

The Commission therefore proposes to re-examine in particular:

  • European legislation on employment, health and social security, and information and consultation of workers;
  • the 2007-2012 health and safety strategy, so as to propose a follow-up strategy for the period 2013-2020.

The joint action taken by the Commission, Member States and social partners should support the fight against undeclared work and discrimination in the world of work.

Fostering job creation

National and European employment policies should take into account business needs. Such policies should be accompanied by measures to support entrepreneurship and the creation of innovative firms.

In order to create a job-friendly environment, the Commission proposes to adopt guiding principles to simplify administrative and legal procedures for hiring and firing, business creation and self-employment, to reduce non-wage labour costs, and combat informal or undeclared work.

Furthermore, measures should be adapted to support business creation and management, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that represent 99 % of European firms.

A new start for the Lisbon Strategy

A new start for the Lisbon Strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A new start for the Lisbon Strategy

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Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

A new start for the Lisbon Strategy (2005)

A mid-term look at the Lisbon strategy shows the outcomes to be somewhat disappointing, particularly with regard to employment. In order to give the strategy some fresh momentum the Commission proposes a simplified coordination procedure and a focus on the national action plans (NAP). The emphasis is no longer on targets, of which the only one to be retained is the figure of 3% of GDP to be devoted to research and development by 2010. There is a switch of emphasis in the Communication away from the medium and long term in favour of the urgent action needed in the Member States.

Document or Iniciative

Communication to the spring European Council of 2 February 2005 entitled “Working together for growth and jobs. A new start for the Lisbon strategy”. Communication from President Barroso in agreement with Vice-President Verheugen. [COM(2005) 24 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Taking stock five years after the launch of the Lisbon strategy, the Commission finds the results to date somewhat disappointing, and the European economy has failed to deliver the expected performance in terms of growth, productivity and employment. Job creation has slowed and there is still insufficient investment in research and development.

The Commission based its findings on the November 2004 report by the high-level group entitled “Rising to the challenge: the Lisbon strategy for growth and employment”. Requested by the March 2004 European Council, this evaluation of progress achieved with the Lisbon strategy is extremely critical: lack of political resolve and inability to complete the internal market in goods and establish the one for services. The report is also critical of a top-heavy agenda, poor coordination and irreconcilable priorities.

The Commission has therefore decided to focus attention on the action to be taken rather than targets to be attained. The date of 2010 and the objectives concerning the various rates of employment are thus no longer put forward as priorities. This Communication fits into this context as a signal for relaunching policy priorities, particularly with regard to growth and employment.

More growth

The Member States, in order to achieve this progress, must focus their efforts on the reforms agreed as part of the strategy and pursue stability-orientated macroeconomic policies and sound budgetary policies. A new partnership for growth and employment is essential in order to give a fresh start to the Lisbon strategy. Accordingly, in order to stimulate growth, the Commission intends to:

  • make the European Union (EU) more attractive to investors and workers by building up the internal market, improving European and national regulations, ensuring open and competitive markets within and outside Europe, and lastly by extending and improving European infrastructures;
  • encourage knowledge and innovation by promoting more investment in research and development, by facilitating innovation, the take-up of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the sustainable use of resources, and by helping to create a strong European industrial base.

More and better quality jobs

The Commission intends to review the European employment strategy in 2005. The Commission’s new proposal concerning the financial framework for the period 2007-2013 moreover reflects a switch of emphasis in favour of growth and employment. To create more and better jobs, the Commission intends to:

  • attract more people to the employment market and modernise social protection systems. The Member States and the social partners must implement policies to encourage workers to remain active and dissuade them from leaving the world of work prematurely. They must also reform the social protection system in order to achieve a better balance between security and flexibility;
  • improve the adaptability of the workforce and business sector, and increase the flexibility of the labour markets in order to help Europe adjust to restructuring and market changes. Simplifying the mutual recognition of qualifications will make labour mobility easier throughout Europe. The Member States should remove all restrictions in this area as quickly as possible;
  • invest more in human capital by improving education and skills. The Commission intends to adopt a Community lifelong learning programme. The Member States will also submit national strategies in this area in 2006.

Better governance

The Commission also stresses the need for responsibilities to be shared more clearly and more effectively. Overlapping, an excess of red tape and not enough political ownership are holding up progress. It will put forward a Lisbon action programme in order to clarify what needs to be done.

The Commission will propose simplified coordination with fewer and less complex reports. It is also proposed that the national programmes concerning the Lisbon strategy be presented in a format bringing together three coordination processes:

  • labour market policies (the Luxembourg process);
  • microeconomic and structural reforms (the Cardiff process);
  • macroeconomic and budgetary measures (the Cologne process).

This will enable the European Council to put forward practical guidelines every spring and make it easier for the Commission to monitor progress.

It is also planning to put forward integrated guidelines for both employment and the broad economic policy guidelines in a single document. These guidelines will thus simultaneously cover macroeconomic policies, employment and structural reforms.

The Commission is also proposing that Member States should appoint a “Mr” or “Ms Lisbon” at government level to oversee the implementation of the reforms agreed under the Lisbon strategy.

This new reporting process will provide a mechanism through which the European Council and the European Parliament can focus on key policy issues. There will henceforth be a single Lisbon report at EU and at national level on the progress made.

Related Acts

Presidency Conclusions (FR) (pdf ) of the Spring European Council in Brussels on 13/14 March 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

On the basis of Commission documents and in the light of the work carried out by the Council, the European Council launched the second cycle of the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs for the period 2008-2010, i.e. the Lisbon Community Programme (LCP). The European Council confirmed the integrated guidelines and the recommendations for each country. It also reaffirmed the four priority areas of the renewed Lisbon Strategy: investing in knowledge and innovation; unlocking business potential, especially of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and modernising labour markets; and developing an energy-efficient low-carbon economy. On the basis of the measures proposed by the Commission in its Communication of 11 December 2007 entitled “The renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: launching the new cycle (2008 -2010)” and the work of the European Parliament and the Council, the European Council also approved a number of specific measures to be implemented.

Presidency Conclusions of the Spring European Council in Brussels on 8/9 March 2007 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Presidency Conclusions of the Spring European Council in Brussels on 23/24 March 2006 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 20 July 2005: Common actions for growth and employment: The Community Lisbon Programme [COM(2000) 330 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Presidency Conclusions
(pdf ) of the Spring European Council in Brussels on 22/23 March 2005 concerning the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy [Not published in the Official Journal].
The spring 2005 summit of Heads of State or Government saw the adoption of the simplified Lisbon objectives proposed on the occasion of the mid-term review. Yet the Presidency conclusions refer to nearly 100 different objectives. These objectives stress the implementation of the reforms needed for growth and employment.

Commission Communication of 20 April 2005 entitled “Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy” [COM(2005) 152 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Joint Employment Report 2005/2006

Joint Employment Report 2005/2006

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint Employment Report 2005/2006

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 > Social and employment situation in europe

Joint Employment Report 2005/2006

The report on the annual situation follows the previous report without making any real changes to its conclusions. This document concludes that it is essential to move up a gear in implementing the Lisbon Strategy. It takes stock of the progress made by the Member States in implementing the guidelines for growth. Despite the effectiveness of certain reforms, this report considers that the Member States should be more ambitious, particularly as regards the development of human capital.

Document or Iniciative

Joint Employment Report 2005/2006 – More and Better Jobs: Delivering the Priorities of the European Employment Strategy

Summary

The joint employment report highlights the guidelines of the European Employment Strategy with a view to achieving the objectives of the Lisbon strategy. It is based on the decisions taken at the European Council of March 2006, and on the comments on the Member States in the European Commission’s 2006 annual report on growth and employment. This evaluation is not an assessment of the overall policies or systems in the relevant areas.

This document does nevertheless ascertain the need to speed up implementation of the Lisbon strategy. The European economy has the potential to make a substantial step forward in creating more and better jobs.

The report draws conclusions from the reforms carried out in the Member States which have helped to raise the employment content of growth, encourage wage developments, and lower rates of unemployment. For the EU as a whole, however,

the scope of reform has lacked ambition. The report emphasises the lack of progress made in fuelling more economic and employment growth.

Achievements and shortcomings

More ambitious policies should result in a sizeable increase in economic growth and in lifting the employment rate well above the current 63.3% stated in this document towards the 70% employment rate target by 2010.

Despite some progress over the years, such as the increase in employment rates of women and older people, the overall employment rate remains 7 percentage points or some 20 million jobs below the 2010 target. Long-term unemployment rose to 4.1%, this figure including youth unemployment which stands at around double the overall rate. Regional employment and unemployment disparities also remain widespread.

Attracting more people to the labour market is a priority for the Member States, and this objective is, of course, welcome. In order to make such policies effective, this approach should be complemented by a lifecycle approach. There is also a need to review the structure and sources of financial investments in education and lifelong learning.

The application of the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) is in line with the country-specific Employment Recommendations. The report does, however, contain evidence that government ownership of the strategy at national level seems well articulated, but there is less indication that the agenda is shared across society and is firmly built on social partnerships for reform.

According to this report, progress in terms of increased quality at work remains mixed. Participation in lifelong learning has risen, as have youth education levels, but few Member States pay attention to the synergies between improved quality and productivity at work and to developing employment.

The report emphasises the lack of importance attached to the adaptability of workers and enterprises. In many Member States, the current balance between flexibility and security has led to increasingly segmented labour markets, with the risk of augmenting the precariousness of jobs and limiting human capital accumulation.

Avenues to be explored

The European Employment Strategy (ESS), which is the employment section of the Lisbon strategy, is based around three key objectives for meeting the conditions required to improve Europe’s employment performance. These are:

  • full employment;
  • productivity;
  • quality at work, and social and territorial cohesion.

The employment guidelines, which determine the “employment” aspect of the NRPs, provide the policy framework to focus action. The aim is to:

  • attract and retain more people in employment, increase labour supply and modernise social protection systems;
  • improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises;
  • increase investment in human capital through better education and skills.

In order to better focus further implementation of the Lisbon strategy, the report asks the Member States to take account of the following aspects:

  • demographic trends should encourage politicians to adopt a lifecycle-based approach to labour, with a view to facilitating employment and career transitions. It is crucial that these active policies operate in better synergy with social protection instruments;
  • particular attention must be paid to labour supply and improving employment opportunities for target groups such as young people, women, older workers, people with disabilities and immigrants and minorities;
  • both demand and supply measures are crucial for Europe to address globalisation and facilitate the transition to a knowledge based economy. This is why measures for those with low skills and low pay on the margins of the labour market need more focus;
  • human capital development is crucial, thus the importance of paying more attention to the provision of financial incentives for education and lifelong learning, and to improving the efficiency of investment in human capital;
  • the implementation of strategies aimed at improving the adaptability of workers and enterprises, including labour mobility, need to be developed. Member States should address flexibility combined with employment security, and avoid labour market segmentation by taking as their basis a set of common principles on flexicurity drawn up by the Commission together with the Member States and social partners.

In 2007, the assessment of the Member States’ labour market performance will provide a sound basis for maintaining the momentum for reform and may lead, if necessary, to country specific recommendations. Bilateral contacts between the Commission and the Member States will be beneficial and help to improve governance of the strategy in the field of employment.

Related Acts

Draft Joint Employment Report 2004/2005 [COM(2005) 13 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 2003/2004 [COM(2004) 24 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 2002 [COM(2002) 621 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 2001 [COM(2001) 438 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Joint Employment Report 2000 – Part I: The European Union – Part II: Member States [COM(2000) 551 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 1999 [SEC(1999) 1386 – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 1998 [SEC(1998) 551 – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Joint employment report 2006/2007

Joint employment report 2006/2007

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint employment report 2006/2007

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 > Social and employment situation in europe

Joint employment report 2006/2007

The joint employment report states that the labour market reforms in the European Union (EU) are beginning to bear fruit. Unemployment is falling while employment is rising. Achieving Europe’s employment objectives, however, still requires a lot of effort. Whilst investment in education and skills is up, policy implementation to improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises is lagging far behind. This report, like previous reports, emphasises the need for more stringent reforms in order to strike a better balance between flexibility and security in the labour market.

Document or Iniciative

Joint employment report 2006/2007

Summary

The joint employment report reiterates the main priorities of the European Employment Strategy (EES). It reports on the advances and shortcomings of employment policies since the publication of the previous joint employment report.

The EES is built around three priorities:

  • to attract and retain more people in employment, increase labour supply and modernise social protection systems;
  • to improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises;
  • to increase investment in human capital through better education and skills.

Of these priorities, Member States pay the greatest attention to attracting and retaining more people in employment. The implementation of policies to increase investment in human capital through better education and skills is also progressing. Policy implementation to improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises, on the other hand, is lagging behind.

The report emphasises that the poor take-up of policies to improve the adaptability of workers is especially worrying. Reforms of legislation relating to contracts and greater investment in training would allow easier job transitions and provide more opportunities for workers to progress.

Progress in achieving the Community’s employment objectives

The report states that the Member States’ policies, which are built around the priorities of the EES, should promote the following employment objectives:

  • full employment;
  • quality and productivity at work;
  • social and territorial cohesion.

Unemployment fell from 9.1 % in 2004 to 8,8 % in 2005 and the employment rate rose by 0.8 % in 2005, which is the largest increase since 2001. The employment gender gap narrowed further and there were further increases in employment for older workers, with the employment rate increasing from 41% in 2004 to 42.5% in 2005. 22 million new jobs do, however, still need to be created to achieve the EU’s employment objectives by 2010 and youth unemployment still gives cause for concern. Few Member States report on progress in providing the long-term unemployed with active support.

Little improvement has been recorded as regards the quality of work. Youth employment rose in 2005, but other elements of the quality of work showed little progress. The report showed few tangible gains in terms of either the transition from insecure to secure jobs or adult participation in lifelong learning.

To be competitive and ensure sustainable growth, productivity must increase. However, labour productivity growth has been falling in the EU as a whole over the last twenty years, from around 2% a year in the 1980s to 1% in the 1996-2001 period and to below 1% between 2001 and 2003. The situation improved in 2004 (1.9%) but fell back again to 0.9% in 2005.

The Lisbon strategy calls for economic and labour market reforms and for social policies to support economic and employment growth. The report adds that social protection reforms should, where required, improve the sustainability of public finances, particularly by modernising pension systems. The report emphasises that the challenge is to ensure that growth and job creation translate into greater social cohesion.

The report also focuses on territorial cohesion, explaining that regional disparities remain widespread, with very high rates of unemployment in many regions.

A call for delivery

The report stresses that the better functioning of labour markets and quality at work calls for comprehensive measures, which can:

  • encourage the inactive to enter the labour market;
  • reward work within the framework of modern social security systems;
  • facilitate restructuring;
  • improve workers’ adaptability and skills development.

10. The report points out that “flexicurity” should ease the transitions between different stages of working life. “Flexicurity” can be defined, more precisely, as a policy strategy to simultaneously enhance the flexibility of labour markets, work organisations and labour relations on the one hand, and employment and income security on the other. In June 2007, the Commission will present a communication along with extensive consultation in order to set out a range of options to help Member States find the right policy mix for their labour markets.

A reinforced lifecycle-based approach to work should improve access to the labour market, extend working life and promote professional mobility over the life cycle. This measure should in particular lead to an urgent improvement in the situation of young people on the labour market.

The report indicates that due attention should be given to people at the margins of the labour market. Financial incentives which are more attractive than social benefits would create opportunities for the low-skilled. A balanced approach could consist of individually-tailored measures, appropriate minimum wages, targeted payroll tax cuts and the creation of the right environment for the provision of good quality jobs, for example through the development of the personal services market.

To achieve these objectives, effective investment in human capital is indispensable and a breakthrough in lifelong learning is required. The Spring 2006 European Council stated that it was also essential to raise education levels to improve employment opportunities.

The report specifies that migration is an emerging labour market issue which may be relevant in alleviating labour shortages. Several Member States are implementing measures targeted at immigrants or ethnic minorities, but the unemployment rate gapbetween EU and non-EU nationals is still huge.

Related Acts

Draft Joint Employment Report 2005/2006

Draft Joint Employment Report 2003/2004 [COM(2004) 24 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 2002 [COM(2002) 621 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 2001 [COM(2001) 438 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Joint Employment Report 2000 – Part I: The European Union – Part II: Member States [COM(2000) 1688 final – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 1999 [SEC(1999) 1386 – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Draft Joint Employment Report 1998 [SEC(1998) 1688 – Not published in the Official Journal.]

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards common principles of flexicurity

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 > Social protection

Towards common principles of flexicurity

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 June 2007, entitled ‘Towards Common Principles of Flexicurity: More and better jobs through flexibility and security’ [COM(2007) 359 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a set of guidelines as a framework for the Member States’ flexicurity strategies.

The principles of flexicurity contribute to the modernisation of the European social models.

Concept of flexicurity

To be effective, labour market modernisation strategies must take into account the needs of employees and employers alike. The concept of flexicurity is therefore a global approach which favours:

  • flexibility of employees, who must be able to adapt to labour market developments and achieve their professional transitions. Similarly, this approach must improve the flexibility of enterprises and work organisation in order to meet the needs of employers and to improve the balance between work and family life;
  • security for employees, who must be able to progress in their professional careers, develop their skills and be supported by social security systems when they are not working.

Flexicurity strategies aim to reduce unemployment and poverty rates in the European Union (EU). In particular, they help to facilitate the integration of the most underprivileged groups on the labour market (such as the young, women, older workers and the long-term unemployed).

Flexicurity strategies

The national strategies are to be put in place on the basis of four mutually reinforcing principles:

  • flexible and reliable work contracts, in accordance with labour laws, collective agreements and modern work organisation principles;
  • the introduction of lifelong learning strategies, to support the continual adaptability of employees, particularly the most vulnerable in the labour market;
  • effective active labour market policies (ALMP) to help employees find employment again after a period out of work;
  • the modernisation of social security systems, to provide financial support which encourages employment and facilitates labour market mobility.

The social partners must participate actively in the introduction of flexicurity strategies to guarantee the proper application of these principles.

Common principles at European level

Member States adapt their flexicurity strategies according to the specific features of their labour market. However, the Commission recommends that they follow a set of principles:

  • broadening the introduction of the Lisbon Strategy to improve employment and social cohesion within the EU;
  • striking a balance between the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees, persons seeking employment and public authorities;
  • adapting the principle of flexicurity to the circumstances of each Member State;
  • supporting and protecting employees when they are not in work or during a period of transition, to integrate them into the labour market or to coach them towards stable work contracts;
  • developing flexicurity within the enterprise as well as external flexicurity between enterprises, in order to support career development;
  • promoting gender equality and equal opportunities for all;
  • encouraging co-operation between the social partners, the authorities and other stakeholders;
  • a fair distribution of the budgetary costs and the benefits of flexicurity policies, especially between businesses, individuals and public budgets, with particular attention to SMEs.

European financing can make a significant contribution to the financing of flexicurity strategies. The structural funds support in-house training, lifelong learning and the promotion of an enterprise culture in particular.

Employment Committee

Employment Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment Committee

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 > Social dialogue and employee participation

Employment Committee

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision (EC) No 98/2000 of 24 January 2000 establishing the Employment Committee.

Summary

In order to promote coordination on employment and labour market policies, the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment was established in 2003. It institutionalises the informal summits held since December 2000.

Likewise, the Employment and the Labour Market Committee (ELMC) was set up in 1997. Its objective was to assist the Council in the employment field. This Committee basically fulfilled the functions associated with the European Employment Strategy (” Luxembourg process “), i.e.:

  • collective examination of the national employment reports;
  • preparation of the joint employment report by the Commission and the Council;
  • drafting of an opinion on the employment guidelines.

Following the entry into effect of the Treaty establishing the European Communities (Article 130), as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, the ELMC was replaced by the Employment Committee. The new Committee takes over from the ELMC and has been modified with a view to making it work more smoothly.

Mission

The mission of the Employment Committee is to:

  • promote the taking into account of the objective of a high level of employment in preparing and implementing Community policies and measures. It formulates opinions at the request of the Council of Ministers, the European Commission or on its own initiative, and prepares the discussions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Protection Council at the request of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union;
  • contribute to the procedure of adopting the major economic policy guidelines in order to ensure that they are consistent with the employment guidelines and contribute to synergy between the European strategy for employment, the coordination of macro-economic policies and the economic reform process;
  • promote exchanges of information and experience between Member States and with the Commission in these fields;
  • participate in the dialogue on macro-economic policies at Community level.

Membership

The Member States and the Commission each appoint two members of the Committee and they may also appoint two alternates. With a view to strengthening the Committee’s political clout, the members of the Committee and the alternates are selected from among senior experts possessing outstanding competence in the field of employment and labour market policy in the Member States. The Committee may call on external experts where appropriate to its agenda.

Operations

The Committee elects its chairperson from among its members for a non-renewable term of two years. The Chairperson is assisted by three vice-chairpersons. Meetings are convened by the Chairperson, either on his own initiative or at the request of at least half of the members of the Committee.

The Commission provides the analytical and organisational support for the Committee.

The Committee establishes its own rules of procedure.

The Committee may entrust the study of specific questions to its alternate members or to working groups. In such cases, the presidency is assumed by either the Commission, a member or an alternate member of the Committee, appointed by the Committee. The working groups may call up experts to assist them.

Liaison with other bodies

The ELMC consulted management and labour on an informal basis. The draft decision provides that the Committee shall consult management and labour and leaves a certain margin for manoeuvre as regards the mechanisms of this consultation, which must be established by the Committee.

The Employment Committee has been established to achieve improved coordination and to consolidate relations between the committees. Hence the draft decision provides that the Committee will work as appropriate in cooperation with other relevant bodies and committees dealing with economic policy matters, i.e. the Economic and Financial Committee (provided for in the Treaty) and the Economic Policy Committee (established by a Council Decision), the Social Protection Committee and the Education Committee.

Council Decision 97/16/EC establishing the Employment and Labour Market Committee ceases to exist.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision (EC) No 98/2000 24.01.2000 OJ L 29 of 04.02.2000

A modern policy for SMEs

A modern policy for SMEs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A modern policy for SMEs

Topics

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

Enterprise > Business environment

A modern policy for SMEs

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 10 November 2005, entitled “Implementing the Community Lisbon programme – Modern SME policy for growth and employment” [COM (2005) 551 final – Not published in thOfficial Journal].

Summary

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make a major contribution to growth and job creation in the European Union (EU). This is why the new policy on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) creates a more coherent, pragmatic and horizontal framework for these enterprises. Promoting entrepreneurship and developing an environment favourable to SMEs will allow them to become more competitive.

SMEs are very diverse, and consequently have different needs. Some of them are start-ups, while others are rapidly growing “gazelles”. Some are active in vast markets, others in local or regional markets. If by definition all SMEs have fewer than 250 employees, some are micro-enterprises, others are family SMEs. In order to unlock the growth potential of SMEs as a whole, policies and action to support them need to reflect this diversity.

The success of this new policy will depend on the effective involvement of all SME stakeholders, national, regional and European, public and private.

Specific action is proposed in five key areas:

  • Promoting entrepreneurship and skills. Promoting entrepreneurship, reducing the burden of risk linked to setting up and running a business, eliminating the negative effects linked to business failure, and providing support for the successful transfer of businesses are all elements that contribute to a better exploitation of Europe’s entrepreneurial potential. Special attention will be paid to promoting entrepreneurial skills, reducing the skills gaps and providing support to particular categories of entrepreneurs (women, young people, old people, and people from ethnic minorities).
  • Improving SMEs’ access to markets. Better access to tenders on the public market, greater participation in the standardisation process, increased awareness of intellectual property rights, and support for inter-enterprise cooperation, particularly in border regions, will help SMEs to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the internal market. SME access to international markets will also be facilitated.
  • Cutting red tape. It is vital to simplify the regulatory and administrative constraints weighing on SMEs. The principle of giving priority to small enterprises (“Think Small First”) will be integrated across all EU policies. The interests of SMEs will systematically be taken into consideration when assessing the impact of Community legislation and when preparing forthcoming legislation. Derogations for SMEs can be developed for this purpose. Special attention will be given to the rules concerning state aid, SME involvement in Community programmes, value-added tax (VAT) and, at national level, direct taxation.
  • Improving SMEs’ growth potential. Improving SMEs’ access to finance, research, innovation and information and communication technologies (ICT) will contribute directly to unlocking their potential for growth. Financial support, initially provided at Community level by the Multiannual Programme for Enterprises and Entrepreneurship (2001-2006), has now been increased by the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013). It is also vital to strengthen SMEs’ capacities for research and innovation, as continued innovation is essential for the sustainable development of SMEs. SME involvement in the 7th Research Framework Programme will thus be facilitated.
  • Strengthening dialogue and consultation with SME stakeholders. Enterprises, in particular SMEs, and the European Institutions suffer from a lack of information exchange. More systematic cooperation and consultation with stakeholders is an essential guideline of the new SME policy. When policies are being developed, SMEs will be consulted by the Commission’s SME Envoy or the “SME Panel”, a new quick-and-easy mechanism for consultation via the Enterprise Europe Network. In addition, as from the end of 2005, “European Enterprise Awards” will reward measures that have proved to be effective in promoting entrepreneurship and thus contributed to the exchange of best practices. The Community business support networks will, for their part, continue to play an essential role in spreading information on the EU to businesses, particularly SMEs.

Background

SMEs make up a large part of Europe’s economy and industry. The EU’s 23 million SMEs account for 99 % of all businesses and contribute up to 80 % of employment in some industrial sectors, such as textiles. European SMEs are thus an essential source of growth, employment, entrepreneurial skills, innovation and economic and social cohesion. It is therefore essential to unlock the potential of SMEs and improve the environment they operate in by promoting entrepreneurship.