Tag Archives: European employment strategy

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 in rural areas: closing the jobs gap

Employment in rural areas: closing the jobs gap

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment in rural areas: closing the jobs gap


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

Agriculture > General framework

Employment in rural areas: closing the jobs gap

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 21 December 2006 entitled “Employment in rural areas: closing the jobs gap” [COM(2006) 857 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Europe’s rural areas face a common challenge: the creation of high-quality, sustainable jobs. In this area, the gap between urban and rural areas continues to widen. Although rural areas make up 93% of the territory of the European Union (EU), income per capita in these areas is little more than half that in urban areas. For this reason it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain skilled individuals.

Several challenges have been identified for the future of rural employment:

  • the ageing of the farming population;
  • the participation of young people and women in the rural economy;
  • the enlargement of the EU;
  • producer support under the new CAP (revised in 2003) based on a reinforced rural development policy which focuses on jobs, growth and sustainability.

The Commission therefore proposes to close the jobs gap in rural areas by improving the adaptability of workers and enterprises and ensuring better education and skills.

An evolving demographic situation

Two processes of demographic change are currently taking place in Europe. The first is the migration of the rural population towards urban areas or accessible rural areas. The second is a “counter-urbanisation” flow out of urban areas into accessible rural areas. These areas are thus experiencing strong growth, at the expense of predominantly rural areas, which are slowly being depleted of population and economic activity.

Rural areas in the southern Member States are most affected by population ageing.

Low employment rates and a tertiary sector which is lagging behind

The employment rate is rising more quickly in urban areas (64.7% in 2004) than in rural areas (60.1%). However, certain rural areas close to towns have high rates of employment growth.

The tertiary sector tends to be dominated by the public sector in rural areas, and private services tend to be less developed than in urban areas.

Lack of skills and opportunities

Skills levels are lower in rural areas: some 15% of the population in rural areas has third-level education, while in urban areas this figure is 20%. Skilled individuals also tend to migrate to urban areas because of better job opportunities.

In some rural areas, the lack of training infrastructure and child-care facilities prevent entry or upskilling in the labour market. These deficiencies directly affect women and young people. Facing high levels of unemployment, the majority of them decide to leave the rural areas, which in turn creates difficulties for generational renewal.

The impact of CAP reform and rural development policies

In order to successfully adjust production structures in the Member States, it is essential to improve competitiveness and environmental sustainability and to boost jobs and growth. The problem is that many farmers still do not have the necessary skills in terms of innovation, diversification, bioenergy production, provision of environmental services and development of local services. For this reason it is imperative to promote research and development, vocational training, advisory services and innovation.

Evaluations indicate that on-farm investment, training, forestry measures, and measures promoting the development of rural areas have been effective in creating employment. Rural development policies have played an important role in preventing depopulation and land abandonment and in creating and maintaining jobs.

Through successive reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy over the past twenty years, labour outflows from the agricultural sector have been broadly constant at around 2-3% per year. The main determinants of labour adjustment in the farm sector are technological change, returns on capital and the relative remuneration of agricultural labour compared to other sectors. It is to be expected that some 2 million workers from the EU-15, 1 to 2 million workers from the ten new Member States and 1 to 2 million workers from Bulgaria and Romania will leave the sector by 2014. At the same time, without the introduction of direct aids to producers, many rural areas would have faced major economic, social and environmental problems.

Closing the jobs gap

Those rural areas which are most remote, depopulated or dependent on agriculture face many challenges: low levels of income, high unemployment rates, unfavourable demographic situations, a lack of skills, human capital and opportunities for women and young people, and slower development of the tertiary sector. It is imperative that rural areas in the EU exploit their potential to meet demand both in Europe and globally. If they do not, they will fall further behind urban areas.

Rural areas offer many opportunities in terms of tourism, living and working conditions and natural resources. The high quality of Europe’s agricultural produce also continues to be a major asset.

The Commission therefore recommends that:

  • the process of CAP reform should be maintained and consolidated;
  • Member States should encourage the cultivation of energy crops and the development of renewable energy enterprises;
  • the integration of the new Member States and the restructuring of their agriculture should remain a priority over the coming years;
  • the full range of Community instruments, and more specifically measures in the area of rural development, should be used to deliver the priorities of knowledge transfer, modernisation, innovation, quality in the food chain, job creation and growth.

The synergy between structural, employment and rural development policies must be maximised in order to ensure optimum job creation. For its part, the Commission will be responsible for assessing the effects of the policies on employment in rural areas, using statistical instruments.

The Community Lisbon Programme

The Community Lisbon Programme

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


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

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].


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.


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].


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].

Global Europe: Competing in the world

Global Europe: Competing in the world

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Global Europe: Competing in the world


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

Enterprise > International dimension and enlargement

Global Europe: Competing in the world

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 4 October 2006 “Global Europe: Competing in the world” [COM(2006) 567 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


As part of the external aspect of the Lisbon Strategy promoting growth and jobs, the Commission proposes an ambitious programme for the competitiveness of the European Union (EU) and its businesses that places the emphasis on open markets. Fundamental to the programme are the rejection of protectionism in Europe, the opening up of the principal markets outside Europe and the bringing together of the EU’s internal and external policies.

In this context, the Commission presents an analysis of the foundations of the EU’s common commercial policy and competitiveness. Furthermore, the Commission outlines the measures necessary to respond to both these priorities and the challenges of globalisation.

The global economy is characterised by an increasing integration facilitated, notably, by new information and communication technologies and the reduction in the costs of transport. This increasing integration leads to a strong interdependence between economies and industries at global level, bringing about as many opportunities as it does risks for both citizens and the planet.


Faced with these challenges, the EU must reinforce its competitiveness through the use of transparent and effective rules.

Firstly, European competitiveness is based on sound internal policies, namely:

  • competitive markets which encourage the competitiveness of European businesses. The Single Market benefits from high-quality, transparent rules that make it possible to benefit from economies of scale and use resources efficiently. Furthermore, competition encourages businesses to provide high-quality products. Despite the strong performance of European businesses compared with their global competitors in the sectors of manufacturing and services, high-technology sectors could still improve in terms of innovation, education, research and development;
  • economic openness: unlike protectionism, opening up to international trade and investment generates competitive pressures which benefit innovation, new technologies and investment, thereby facilitating the use of Single Market resources. In this context, trade defence instruments adapted to global trade remain indispensable to combat unfair commercial practices;
  • social justice: the EU must be in a position to cope with the impact caused by an opening up of the markets, notably an acceleration in structural changes brought about by globalisation. This acceleration can have a negative impact on certain sectors, regions or workers. Therefore, not only must the effects of an opening up be predictable, but the values, particularly those concerning social and environmental issues, must also be promoted throughout the world.

Secondly, European competitiveness is based on the opening up of foreign markets based on fair rules. The EU should in particular show a commitment to opening up markets in emerging countries, which account for a growing share of global trade. The opening up of the markets in China, India and Brazil has shown the benefits that this can bring in terms of development and the fight against poverty.

Nevertheless, to draw the maximum benefit from an opening up of markets, new trade obstacles must be tackled head-on, going beyond customs duties. Against this background, the common commercial policy should place the emphasis on:

  • non-tariff barriers: beyond customs tariffs, non-tariff barriers (trade-restricting regulations and procedures) are often less visible, more complex and more sensitive because they have a direct impact on domestic regulation. To promote trade that abides by transparent and non-discriminatory rules, the Commission, Member States and industry must define new ways of working in addition to the traditional methods at their disposal (mutual recognition, dialogues on standardisation and regulation, technical assistance to third countries).
  • access to resources: European industry should have access to key resources such as energy, raw materials, metals and scrap. This access should not be restricted other than for environmental or security reasons. Accordingly, and in view of the essential nature of energy access for the EU, a coherent policy is needed to guarantee a diversified, competitive, secure and sustainable energy supply both within the Union (competitive market, promotion of a sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix) as well as outside its borders (non-discriminatory access to export infrastructures for third and transit countries, assistance to third countries to strengthen their capacities and infrastructures). In this context, the link between trade and the environment should be strengthened because of the impact which trade can have on the environment, in particular on biodiversity and the climate. Energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and the rational use of energy should be encouraged.
  • new growth sectors: intellectual property rights (IPRs), services, investment, internal markets and competition. These sectors offer major opportunities for the European economy, provided that a gradual liberalisation of global trade and transparent, effective and respected rules (both national and international) facilitate exchanges between the EU and its trading partners. Bilateral and international cooperation should therefore be strengthened.


The Commission proposes an action programme aimed at strengthening the EU’s external competitiveness and meeting global challenges. To achieve this, the action plan identifies the necessary priorities and methods, comprising an internal and an external dimension.

Internal dimension

European businesses must benefit from the EU’s competitiveness and its citizens should feel the advantages. The Lisbon Strategy constitutes the foundation of the EU’s competitiveness. In this context, the communication from the Commission entitled “A Citizens’ Agenda” [COM(2006) 211 final] of May 2006 offers an in-depth examination of the Single Market to guarantee businesses’ competitiveness through diversification, specialisation and innovation.

The process of framing EU policies should focus on the Union’s capacity to respond to global challenges. Coherent regulation at European or international level is therefore essential, and international and bilateral cooperation is of equal importance. The EU encourages good practices to be imparted, but also an open and flexible approach towards drafting these rules.

Concerning the repercussions of an opening up of the markets, the Commission and the Member States will ensure that the European citizens reap the benefits, notably through the introduction of a systematic monitoring of both import and consumer prices.

Furthermore, adaptation to change is a key factor for growth and employment. Cohesion programmes and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund will make it possible to predict and respond to these changes. The European customs system will also be modernised (revision of customs code, introduction of e-customs).

External dimension

Concerning external action, the EU maintains its commitment to multilateralism, which offers the means to eliminate trade barriers in a stable and sustainable manner. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the framework of choice to achieve these goals and the EU supports resuming the Doha round of trade negotiations.

As well as multilateralism, the EU must also endeavour to promote a faster and more comprehensive trade liberalisation within the framework of its bilateral relations. The Free Trade Agreements
(FTAs) will be a driving force towards achieving this goal. These have the advantage of being able to cover domains not provided for either by an international regulation or the WTO. As well as serving the EU’s neighbourhood and development policies, the FTAs should also bring increased benefits to the European Union’s commercial interests. Nevertheless, the Commission notes that the FTAs should have a wider scope of content than the existing ones in the context of neighbourhood policy, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) currently being negotiated with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, or the Association Agreements with Latin America and the Andean Community.

The EU must define economic criteria to negotiate and conclude FTAs and to identify its partners, such as the market potential measured in terms of size and economic growth, the level of protection vis-à-vis exports from the EU (customs tariffs, non-tariff barriers), etc. Other factors will also come into play, such as negotiations between the EU’s potential partners and its competitors, the impact of these negotiations on the EU and the risk that they pose to the partners’ preferential access to the Union’s markets. Based on this, the partners to be privileged are the ASEAN countries, South Korea and India which fulfil the criteria mentioned, as well as Mercosur, Russia, the Gulf Cooperation Council and China.

As regards content, these agreements must be more comprehensive, more ambitious and broader to encompass a wide range of areas covering services and investment as well as IPRs. The FTAs must provide for a regulatory convergence to effectively combat non-tariff barriers, stronger and stricter provisions (IPRs, competition), simple and modern rules of origin adapted to suit circumstances, and monitoring mechanisms to evaluate implementation and results. The FTAs will be adapted to the specific considerations of development (including impact studies) and sustainable development. They will also respond to the needs of each country in accordance with the EU’s strategies towards these countries and the regions to which they belong.

Transatlantic trade is at the heart of the EU’s bilateral relations, in particular with the aim of meeting global challenges. The EU will continue to encourage the elimination of non-tariff barriers, given the economic advantages of a comprehensive liberalisation of trade between the partners. To this end, negotiations under the transatlantic economic initiative are continuing.

China is both an essential partner and a challenge for the EU, offering growth and employment opportunities. China itself is faced with challenges while accounting for an increasing share of global trade. Therefore, as part of its strategy for China, the EU proposes focusing on these challenges, establishing priorities and pursuing closer cooperation in these areas.

The EU and its partners must agree to do more concerning respect for intellectual property rights
(IPRs). This action will take the form of special provisions in bilateral agreements, a strengthening of customs cooperation, dialogues, an increase in presence and resources in the field and awareness-raising among European businesses. The principal countries concerned will be China, Russia, the ASEAN countries, Korea, Mercosur, Chile, Ukraine and Turkey in connection with its accession negotiations.

The Market Access Strategy established in 1996 was renewed in 2007. The Commission proposes strengthening its work by refocusing action on certain countries and sectors as well as on the opening up of their markets to third countries. This effort must be made in cooperation with industry and the Member States.

The internal markets of third countries must be opened up to European suppliers. The Commission will launch an initiative aimed at reducing restrictive practices which are discriminatory. If necessary, targeted restrictions will be maintained for uncooperative countries with the aim of encouraging them towards a mutual opening up of markets.

Trade defence instruments will be a part of multilateralism. The EU will therefore ensure that its partners’ instruments are justified, transparent and in compliance with international rules. Failing this, the EU could fall back on dispute settlement mechanisms such as that of the WTO. Furthermore, the EU will concentrate on improving its own instruments, which must respond to demands in terms of efficiency and adaptation to global changes in order to ensure that the diversity of European interests is taken into account.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the external dimension of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs – Reporting on market access and setting the framework for more effective international regulatory cooperation [

COM(2008) 874

final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication is the first annual report concerning open markets in the European Union (EU) and access by European companies to global markets.

The Commission supports the strengthening of international cooperation and bilateral relations, to improve regulatory convergence, in particular in the financial sector. High standards must be adopted in terms of product safety, and protection of consumers and the environment. Particular efforts are being made with Enlargement countries, Neighbourhood Policy partners, the United States, China and Russia.

The report notes a reduction in import tariffs and duties. However, the general trend to increase non-tariff barriers is a hindrance to trade. The EU intends to use all instruments available to facilitate trade. It supports the conclusion of multilateral trade agreements in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to achieve open and fair markets. Similarly for the conclusion of bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The removal of trade barriers can be facilitated through notification procedures and dispute settlement as laid down in the WTO agreements.

The EU Member States are pursuing coordinated action through the participation of all those involved, including at local level. As part of the Doha round of negotiations, European strategy aims in priority at improving access for companies in sectors with high potential for growth, guaranteeing compliance with intellectual property rights and developing internationalisation of small and medium enterprises through specific assistance measures.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 April 2007 “Global Europe: A stronger partnership to deliver market access for European exporters” [COM(2007) 183 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 6 December 2006 “Global Europe: Europe’s trade defence instruments in a changing global economy – A Green Paper for public consultation” [COM(2006) 763 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The results of the consultation were published on 19 November 2007 (pdf ).

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Report on equal opportunities 2002


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

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Report on equal opportunities 2002

To present an overview of the main developments and achievements in the field of equal opportunities in 2002, both at European and at national level, and to describe the outlook for 2003.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 5 March 2003, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union in 2002 [COM(2003) 98 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary


2002 was an historic year in the European Union (EU) enlargement process as it saw the conclusion of accession negotiations with 10 candidate countries. The period leading up to their entry into the EU on 1 May 2004 will therefore be an opportunity to step up monitoring and support for these countries in the final stages of their preparation for full membership. In this context the action programme for equal opportunities was opened up to candidate countries in 2002.

Legal Transposition

In the field of equal opportunities nine European Directives had to be transposed. The majority of accession countries, in particular Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, are fairly well advanced in the process of alignment with this acquis. Cooperation will continue with Romania and Bulgaria who have made significant progress towards alignment with Community law.

Implementing structures

Transposing the law is not enough in itself. It is equally important to establish adequate institutional and administrative structures, in particular equality organisations and mediators as well as independent advisory bodies. Several countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland have already set up structures of this nature. In both Cyprus and Malta the administrative capacities needed to transpose the Community acquis are in place but need to be further strengthened.

The socio-economic dimension

There is a marked contrast between the current Member States and the accession countries in socio-economic terms. For many years there was a strong presence of women on the labour market in the accession countries, but their numbers fell significantly during the early years of the transition. Levels of unemployment are high among both women and men, particularly in Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and the Slovak Republic. Moreover, men’s participation in the labour market is lower than the EU average and therefore the gender gap in terms of both employment and unemployment is narrower than in the EU. However, as in the Member States, labour markets in the accession countries are strongly gender segregated and the salary gap is wider still. There is a general recognition of the need for a gender mainstreaming policy and strategy but the necessary tools are lacking. Furthermore, beyond the basic provisions for maternity and parental leave, there have been very few developments in terms of family-friendly working-time arrangements.

Cooperation in the field of social inclusion mainly consists of preparing Joint Inclusion Memoranda, the aim of which is to prepare the accession countries for full participation in the European Social Inclusion Process from the date of accession. The memoranda will be finalised by the end of 2003 and, for accession countries, represent a major step towards establishing their first National Action Plans in 2005 to combat poverty and social exclusion.

As regards the role of women in decision-making, it is important that women in accession countries are able to reap the benefits of existing Community law on male-female equality. When European elections are held in June 2004 women will have to be in a position to take on their role, equal to that of men, in decision-making and political life. In 2003 the Commission will concentrate its activities on the promotion of gender balance in decision-making which will provide a basis for action and exchange on this theme between accession countries and Member States.


The strategy for gender mainstreaming has proved an efficient tool in the promotion of equality between men and women. Gender mainstreaming combined with specific actions, legislation and financing programmes in particular, constitutes the dual approach covered by the framework strategy for gender equality.

The European Employment Strategy

In 2002 the Commission carried out an evaluation of the European Employment Strategy which revealed that more emphasis is being put on the gender equality issue, even in the Member States that were “lagging behind”, and the gap between the sexes has narrowed in terms of employment and unemployment rates. Nevertheless these inequalities are still too marked and a lot remains to be done in order to overcome them. Furthermore, substantial progress still has to be made in the development of child-care facilities.

The Structural Funds

In this area gender equality policy is also based on the dual approach of specific measures along with gender mainstreaming across all Structural Fund operations. This dual approach is most advanced in the European Social Fund (ESF), the EU’s main financial support tool for the European Employment Strategy. Most of the initiatives aimed at reducing gender inequalities focus on employment and are funded by the ESF. Gender mainstreaming has proved more difficult in other Structural Fund areas such as transport, the environment and rural development.

As regards improving the promotion of gender equality through the Structural Funds, only a few programmes using the funds in the Member States have adopted a global gender mainstreaming strategy. Moreover, the majority of these programmes lack clear targets and monitoring in terms of gender equality.

The Social Inclusion Process

The European Social Inclusion Process has been developed to support Member States in their fight against poverty and social exclusion. The Member States draw up National Action Plans on the basis of the common objectives set out by the Council of Ministers. They have also been asked to include gender mainstreaming in all their strategies for combating poverty and social exclusion.

The gender dimension did not feature strongly in the first National Action Plans submitted in 2001, but in July 2002 the Ministers agreed to enhance this aspect of the plans which added great impetus to successful gender mainstreaming. In the next round, due in July 2003, the National Action Plans are expected to put more emphasis on specific actions on gender and demonstrate gender mainstreaming throughout.

The gender dimension in the national strategies on pension

Although women are in the majority amongst old people, most pension schemes have traditionally been designed for men who support a family and work full time without taking a career break. The first national reports, submitted in September 2002, show that many pension systems still reflect these basic principles. In many countries, in fact, women’s pensions remain, on average, significantly lower than men’s. However, there is some evidence that the Member States are gradually adapting their systems in line with developments in the social and economic role of women and men, although the effects of such changes are not likely to be felt for some time.

Other policies

In the field of research and development the Commission intends to create a European Platform for women scientists aimed at promoting female scientists and involving them more actively in shaping the science policy debate at national and European level. Furthermore, in December 2002 the Commission published its first calls for proposals under the 6th Community Research Framework Programme among which was a call for proposals concerning women and scientific activities.

In May 2002, in response to the Commission’s Communication entitled “Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality”, the Council adopted a Resolution which recognises equal opportunities as one of the fundamental principles behind the concept of lifelong learning. It also views ongoing training for women, particularly within companies, as an essential goal.

The Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) Environment included gender mainstreaming in its Management Plan. Significant progress has been made in the field of waste, water, marine and soil management in which gender impact studies have been undertaken.



Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards employment, professional training and promotion and working conditions was amended in September 2002. One of the key amendments dealt with sexual harassment at work. For the first time at European level a binding law now defines sexual harassment and prohibits it as a form of discrimination based on sex. Although the Member States have until 2005 to conform to the Directive’s new provisions, the majority of them have already adopted measures aimed at combating sexual harassment, particularly Belgium, France, Finland and Ireland.

Several national courts have been called on to pass judgement on the issue of equal pay. In the Netherlands, for example, a court has ruled in favour of a care worker who brought a claim over equal pay.

In 2002 several Member States took initiatives to facilitate the reconciliation of work with family life. Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, Catalonia and Germany have actually adopted measures along these lines.

The action programme

Equality of pay between women and men was the main theme in 2001, the first year of the programme, because the salary gap between men and women is one of the most striking inequalities that women face in their professional lives. The majority of the projects chosen in the framework of the Action Programme dealt with issues of equal pay. The results are due in 2003 but, since the projects run for 15 months, several conferences on the subject were held in 2002 and provided an opportunity to underline the persistence of the equal pay issue.

The reconciliation of work and family life was the priority in 2002. This is an essential part of the gender dimension in the European employment strategy and in the social inclusion process. It aims to ensure favourable conditions for women and men for entering, returning to and remaining on the job market. This includes access to quality, affordable childcare services, an equal division of childcare and domestic responsibilities, encouraging fathers to take parental leave and the possibility of flexible working arrangements both for men and women. In response to the calls for proposals under the Gender Equality Programme, 18 projects on this theme were selected in 2002 under the action programme.

In 2003 the emphasis will be on women in decision-making. Attaining political parity remains a concern both at Member State and European level. Although several Member States have introduced legislation in this field, the results of recent national elections failed to live up to expectations. In France, for example, the equality law did not have the desired effect of balancing representation either in the local or parliamentary elections. Several Member States such as Belgium, Ireland, Spain and the UK are now tackling the issue of gender-balanced political representation.

In 2004-2005 priority will be given to the theme of male and female stereotypes.


Trafficking in human beings

The fight against trafficking in human beings is one of the EU’s political priorities. In 1996 the EU launched the STOP programme in support of actions aimed at combating the trafficking of human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. In September 2002, the European conference “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings – Global challenge for the 21st century” took place in Brussels. The conference was a Commission initiative in the framework of the STOP II programme and was organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the European Parliament and the Commission. It resulted most significantly in the Brussels Declaration aimed at developing European and international cooperation and encouraging the adoption of concrete measures, norms, good practices and mechanisms to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings. With this aim in mind, the Brussels Declaration makes recommendations on the prevention of trafficking, assisting and protecting victims and police and judicial cooperation.

Domestic violence

Community action to prevent violence against children, young people and women and to protect victims and groups at risk is brought together under the DAPHNE programme. Early in 2003 the Commission issued a proposal on the second phase of Community action, DAPHNE II (2004-2008). This proposal is similar in structure to that of the initial DAPHNE programme (2000-2003) and draws on the experience gained through the first programme.

Other initiatives

Serious attention has also been paid to a number of worrying situations, including the condition of women in Afghanistan, the stoning of women and the integration of Muslim women into European society.


The Commission’s work programme for 2003 will include the following horizontal priorities for all its services:

  • gender impact assessment will be incorporated into the overall impact assessment of new proposals and gender mainstreaming will continue in new areas;
  • each service will increase its efforts to obtain gender-specific data, to systematically break down all related statistics by gender and to establish gender equality indicators;
  • each DG and service will incorporate gender mainstreaming modules into their training plans for all staff, particularly those at management level.

The Commission will launch an open consultation on possible guidelines for the recasting of existing Directives in the field of equal treatment. Furthermore, in 2003 the Commission intends to present a report on the implementation of the Directive on parental leave, looking in particular at the reasons why fathers fail to exercise this right. Lastly, the Greek and Italian presidencies will prepare an analysis, including indicators, of women in decision-making.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work


European Progress Microfinance Facility

European Progress Microfinance Facility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Progress Microfinance Facility


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 inclusion and the fight against poverty

European Progress Microfinance Facility (EPMF)

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 283/2010/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2010 establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion.


The new European Progress Microfinance
Facility (EPMF) aims to support the creation and development of small enterprises and self-employment in the European Union (EU).

This facility is aimed at persons encountering difficulties in accessing conventional credit. It applies to:

  • the unemployed, persons at risk of losing their jobs, the non-working population, persons facing the threat of social exclusion and vulnerable persons;
  • micro-enterprises *, especially those in the social economy or those which employ socially-excluded persons.

Finance is allocated to public and private microfinance providers from EU countries. The EPMF is implemented through:

  • guarantees and risk-sharing instruments;
  • equity instruments;
  • debt instruments;
  • support measures, such as communication activities, monitoring, control, audit and evaluating the implementation of the facility.

The EPMF budget is EUR 100 million for the period 2010-2013. It shall be implemented in close cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF) and international financial institutions.

Key terms
  • Microfinance: in the EU, microcredit is defined as financial loans under EUR 25 000;
  • Micro-enterprise: an enterprise employing less than 10 people. In the EU small or micro-enterprises represent 91 % of enterprises and 99 % of start-ups. A third of them are created by unemployed people.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 283/2010/EU


OJ L 87 of 7.4.2010

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.

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


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

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].


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].

Programme for mutual learning in employment

Programme for mutual learning in employment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Programme for mutual learning in employment


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

Programme for mutual learning in employment

The Programme aims to improve and develop cooperation between Member Sates, whether at a national, regional or local level. Cooperation actions are carried out in the key areas of the European Employment Strategy (EES), which forms an integral part of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The Programme contributes to the objectives to be met by the European Union (EU) before 2020 on matters of employment and social inclusion, so that:

  • 75 % of people between the ages of 20 and 64 are employed;
  • the rate of school leavers is less than 10 %, and that 40 % of young people have a higher education diploma;
  • the number of people affected by poverty is reduced by 20 million.

In addition, the Mutual Learning Programme participates in the general objectives of the open method of coordination (OMC), for converging employment policies.

Implementing the Programme

The Programme provides for three types of actions:

  • thematic seminars on the priorities of employment policies, during which policy-makers, social partners and other stakeholders can debate the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy;
  • peer review meetings, bringing together representatives of national governments and independent experts on issues relating to specific policies, in order to facilitate the transfer of good practice between Member States;
  • follow-up and dissemination activities on the results of actions taken by a larger group of stakeholders at national level.

The programme is open to participation by EU Member States, candidate countries and countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).


The Progress Programme for employment and solidarity finances mutual learning activities. In particular, this Programme supports cooperation between EU Member States on matters of policy and innovative approaches in the field of employment.


The Mutual Learning Programme was launched in 2004 following the conclusions of the European Employment Task Force which highlighted the importance of the exchange of good practice in the field of employment.