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Implementation of the partnership for growth and jobs

Implementation of the partnership for growth and jobs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Implementation of the partnership for growth and jobs


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

Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

Implementation of the partnership for growth and jobs (first report)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 25 January 2006 to the Spring European Council – Time to move up a gear – Part 1: The new partnership for growth and jobs [COM(2006) 30 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The partnership for growth and jobs needs to be converted into a genuine reform with the help of the Community Lisbon Programme and the national reform programmes (NRPs). The Commission reviews their progress here.

Community Lisbon Programme

The Commission has already adopted two-thirds of the planned measures. However, certain measures have yet to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council or rely for funding on an agreement on the financial framework (2007-2013). Some noteworthy measures have been added to those already planned:

  • a communication on research and innovation;
  • the development of an integrated industrial policy;
  • initiatives to improve the tax and customs environment;
  • investigations into more competitive markets in energy and financial services;
  • a proposal to create a single payment area in Europe;
  • new Community funding available for SMEs to improve energy supply and demand.

National reform programmes

All Member States have drawn up NRPs and appointed national Lisbon coordinators. Some have streamlined internal coordination in order to improve policy coherence. The Commission does not consider it necessary at this stage to adapt the integrated guidelines and feels it is too early to propose formal, country-specific recommendations. The emphasis at this stage must be on implementing the partnership and the specific measures proposed at Community and national levels. The Commission draws the Member States’ attention to the individual evaluations of each NRP, drawing conclusions on the macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment aspects, and on specific points which will require particular attention (weaknesses).

Macroeconomic aspects

Analysis of the NRPs from a macroeconomic point of view shows that:

  • many factors complicate short-term and long-term budgetary discipline, making the macroeconomic problem more serious for Member States;
  • Member States are trying to cut spending rather than increase taxes. However, it has yet to be clearly defined where and how savings can be made;
  • the measures proposed in the “euro zone” are geared mainly towards future public finances but do not aim to support labour market adjustments or to create more competitive internal markets;
  • despite recognition of the problem of ageing populations in Europe, NRP measures appear to be piecemeal or insufficient;
  • only some Member States have taken an integrated approach in planning their NRP.

Microeconomic aspects

The following conclusions may be drawn with regard to microeconomic issues:

  • the NRPs reflect the need to increase investment in research and promote innovation;
  • 18 of the 25 Member States have set investment targets relative to GDP which at EU level will equate to 2.6% by 2010, falling short of the overall target of 3%. This figure is currently 1.9% for the EU;
  • initiatives relating to transport infrastructure and communication technologies could receive support from the cohesion and rural development funds;
  • access to internal markets (energy and services) deserve greater attention. The application of Community Directives in this area is a beginning;
  • initiatives to foster a more positive attitude towards entrepreneurship do not go far enough. Education can help to reduce the stigma of failure;
  • Member States need to adopt a more integrated approach in order to improve the rule-making which affects business and at the same time supplement action at Community level;
  • comprehensive and coordinated implementation of the different microeconomic policies may achieve much greater benefits than the sum of the individual policies put together.


The Commission draws the following conclusions with regard to employment:

  • the proposed employment objectives are inspired by Community objectives but are often piecemeal and do not take the life cycle approach;
  • greater attention should be given to “flexicurity”, facilitating the transition from one job to another with adequate social protection and a reliable lifelong learning system;
  • the reform of education systems concentrates mainly on the quality and transparency of qualifications, as well as access to them. Investment needs to be stepped up.

Overall conclusions

The NRPs are a good basis for implementing the partnership for growth and jobs, but not all are of equal quality:

  • some have set clear targets and timetables, with specific measures and budget details. Others lack such information;
  • the three dimensions (macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment) could be more closely integrated so that one measure would benefit several sectors;
  • only some Member States provide for measures to remove obstacles to market access;
  • the cohesion and rural development funds will be needed to achieve the Lisbon objectives, although the macroeconomic repercussions of using these funds will need to be taken into account. Coordination mechanisms need to be put in place for planning the use of these funds and drafting the NRPs.

Key areas

The Commission calls on the Member States to implement their national reform programmes fully and on time. To correct the shortcomings which emerged from the evaluations, it proposes four integrated actions which it intends to implement by the end of 2007:

Action 1: Investing more in knowledge and innovation

The Lisbon objective was to boost R&D spending to 3% of GDP by 2010 (1% from the public sector, 2% from the private sector). Member States must increase public spending and make it more effective through wider use of fiscal incentives and closer coordination with the other Member States with regard to spending. Public procurement has a part to play in transforming the results of research into innovation. At the same time, more competitive markets encourage businesses to be more innovative.

The private sector must be able to make a greater contribution to funding for higher education, and the link between universities and business must be strengthened. The objective should be to increase investment in higher education to 2% of GDP.

Action 2: Unlocking the business potential of SMEs

By 2007, every Member State should have set up a one-stop shop to assist would-be entrepreneurs to fulfil administrative requirements all in one place – electronically, where possible. They must set up similar one-stop shops for VAT and for the recruitment of a first employee. The time taken to set up a business should be cut in half, and start-up fees should be as low as possible.

By that date they must also adopt a methodology for measuring administrative costs for national rules and regulations. This exercise should facilitate initiatives to reduce these administrative costs. The Commission will propose similar initiatives at Community level.

Action 3: Responding to globalisation and ageing

Member States must help people to work longer, and they need to reform pension schemes, for example by changing the statutory retirement age, enhancing financial incentives for older workers to remain in work, offering more training opportunities to workers over the age of 45 or allowing gradual retirement. Disability schemes, together with health care and long-term care systems, should also be reviewed to make them more effective.

The entry of young people into the labour market, in line with the Youth Pact, is another important factor. By 2007, young people who have left school should be offered a job or additional training within 6 months, or within 100 days by 2010.

The Commission wishes to consult the social partners on better ways to reconcile family and professional life. It also plans to present a report in order to seek agreement on ‘flexicurity’ by the end of 2007, comprising the following elements:

  • reduction of labour market segmentation and undeclared work;
  • Member States to establish lifelong learning strategies to prepare people for change, supported by the European Social Fund and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund;
  • removal of obstacles to worker mobility by reaching a political agreement on the portability of supplementary pension rights.

Action 4: Moving towards an efficient EU energy policy

The Commission is proposing an energy policy designed to ensure that energy is secure, competitive and sustainable. The security of supply will be improved by:

  • strengthening and deepening the internal energy market (in particular completing the energy market by 1 July 2007), by promoting more competition in the electricity and gas markets, and by more integration between the gas pipeline systems of the Member States);
  • exploiting the potential of renewable energy sources and promoting more efficient use of energy;
  • developing a more focused, coherent and integrated approach to ensuring the security of energy.

A Green Paper has been published on ways to achieve these objectives.


The Commission intends to involve national (and regional) parliaments, local authorities and other stakeholders in the implementation of the NRPs, particularly where there has not been sufficient time to do so during the preparation of the programmes. It proposes to involve the social partners by holding an extraordinary Social Summit. The NRPs must be further developed and strengthened by mutual learning among Member States. Those Member States which have not yet set targets with regard to future R&D spending and the employment rate should do so. The Commission and Member States will ensure that the open method of coordination, in the areas of education and training, social protection and social inclusion, also makes a strong contribution to the objectives.

With regard to the implementation of the Community Lisbon Programme, the Commission has proposed a roadmap setting out the major steps required for measures supplementing the NRPs.

The European Union institutions and the Member States need to define a communication strategy to improve understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the new partnership for growth and jobs at local, regional and national levels. This is essential in order to develop a sense of ownership on the part of all involved.


As provided for at the Spring European Council in 2005, the Commission has drawn up the first report on the implementation of the new partnership for growth and jobs. With this report, the 2006 Spring European Council will be able to review progress made and comment on any adjustments to the integrated guidelines, which serve as a basis for the national reform programmes and the Community Lisbon Programme.

Employment policy guidelines

Employment policy guidelines

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


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.


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.



Entry into force – Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2005/600/EC



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


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.


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.


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


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].


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.