Tag Archives: European social policy

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market [Official Journal L 307 of 18.11.2008].

Summary

With this Recommendation, the Commission is encouraging Member States to take action for the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market. To this end, the Commission recommends that the Member States draw up and implement an integrated comprehensive strategy. The strategy should be composed of the following three strands:

  • sufficient income support;
  • inclusive labour markets;
  • access to quality services.

The actions should support the employment of those who can work, providing the resources required for a dignified life, and promote the social participation of those who cannot work.

The Member States are further recommended to ensure that the inclusion policies are effective. This should be done by:

  • combining the above three strands of the strategy in an appropriate manner;
  • implementing the strategy in an integrated manner across the three strands;
  • coordinating the policies among authorities at local, regional, national and European Union (EU) level;
  • including all relevant actors in the development, implementation and evaluation of the strategy.

In particular, the inclusion policies should take account of fundamental rights, the promotion of equal opportunities for all, the specific needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and the local and regional contexts. In addition, the inclusion policies should contribute to preventing the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Furthermore, the Commission recommends that the Member States organise and implement active inclusion policies with the detailed set of common principles and practical guidelines put forward in the document. With regard to:

  • sufficient income support, Member States should recognise and implement the right of individuals to adequate resources and social assistance as part of consistent and comprehensive efforts to fight social exclusion;
  • inclusive labour markets, Member States should provide assistance for those who can work to enter or re-enter and stay in employment that best relates to their capacity to work;
  • access to quality services, Member States should ensure that proper social support is given to those that require it, in order to promote social and economic inclusion.

The Member States are also recommended to ensure that the necessary resources and benefits are provided under the social protection instruments, taking into account the economic and budgetary constraints. Active inclusion measures may also be funded from the Structural Funds. Information about the rights and support measures available to all must be publicised widely, and if possible, through electronic means.

In addition, Member States should simplify administrative procedures. At the same time, access for the public to the appeals systems should be made easier.

Finally, the Commission is also recommending that the Member States take steps to enhance indicators and statistical data on active inclusion policies. The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on social protection and inclusion should be employed for monitoring and evaluating these policies on the basis of close collaboration between the Social Protection and the Employment Committees and with the support of the activities funded by the Progress programme.

The active inclusion measures should be aligned with the social cohesion objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.

Background

Poverty and social exclusion are addressed, in particular, in the Council Recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems. While this Recommendation still applies, additional measures need to be taken to implement it fully. Subsequent instruments include, among others, the OMC on social protection and inclusion and the European employment strategy. Furthermore, the persisting problems, especially in terms of poverty and joblessness, require that social protection systems are modernised and that comprehensive and integrated policies are initiated. These are the objectives of the “active inclusion” approach that complements social assistance benefits with support to enter the labour market and with access to quality services.

Social and economic integration of Roma

Social and economic integration of Roma

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social and economic integration of Roma

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Social and economic integration of Roma

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 7 April 2010 – The social and economic integration of the Roma in Europe [COM(2010) 133 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a strategy which is to improve the economic and social integration of Roma in the European Union (EU). This action shall also be carried out in those countries involved in the EU enlargement process.

Improving the impact of existing policies

The EU has a set of legal instruments for combating discrimination (the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and legislation on non-discrimination and the free movement of persons), as well as funding to encourage social cohesion (the Structural Funds and the Instrument for pre-Accession Assistance (IAP)).

Instruments also exist at international and national levels. The Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have adopted initiatives for this purpose. Countries involved in the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 initiative have also adopted national action plans.

The Commission states that all existing initiatives must be:

  • better coordinated;
  • implemented better at local level;
  • accompanied by awareness-raising actions for Roma communities and the Roma population as a whole;
  • guided by desegregation policies;
  • included in more general policy strategies, such as those for education, employment, health and territorial development.

Improving the implementation of actions

European financial instruments are not optimised due to their complexity. The Commission shall therefore provide measures for technical assistance. In addition, existing resources shall be increased.

The Commission supports multisectoral, national and European strategies for tackling the marginalisation of Roma communities. It also encourages the participation of communities in developing and implementing strategies.

Adapting public policies

All relevant European and national policies shall contribute to the integration of the Roma. National public authorities shall exchange experiences, particularly through the EURoma Network.

In particular, the Commission shall:

  • organise meetings between the public authorities in EU countries;
  • support the creation of an academic network on Roma studies;
  • improve coordination between the structural funds and adapt the next generation of structural funds and programmes accordingly;
  • take account of the inclusion of Roma under the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the “European Platform against Poverty”, in particular;
  • encourage mutual learning in the area of employment;
  • take account of the inclusion of Roma in the enlargement process.

Improving policy coherence

In order to encourage coherent action and stakeholder responsibility, specifically the Commission shall:

  • support the development of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion;
  • assess policy implementation;
  • enable the Roma to access the political process.

Developing model intervention approaches

The Commission proposes to draft integration strategies adapted to the specific nature of each Roma community. This relates to situations where Roma communities:

  • live in urban districts close to other disadvantaged communities;
  • live in disadvantaged districts or rural settlements;
  • are mobile with citizenship of an EU country;
  • are mobile or sedentary with citizenship of a non-EU country (they may be refugees, stateless persons or asylum seekers).

Intervention approaches shall be developed to respond to core socio-economic needs, such as employment and self-employment, education, housing and health. They shall help to define types of funding, legislative tools and the role of each stakeholder involved.

Context

This Communication forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is published in preparation for the 2nd European Roma Summit.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Joint report on social inclusion

Joint report on social inclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint report on social inclusion

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Joint report on social inclusion

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 12 December 2003 concerning the joint report on social inclusion summarising the results of the examination of the National Action Plans for Social Inclusion (2003-2005) [COM(2003)773 – Not published in the official journal].

Summary

In order to encourage more ambitious and effective strategies to promote social inclusion, the report sets out the main trends and challenges associated with policies to combat poverty and social inclusion within the European Union. It also highlights the progress achieved in implementing the open method of coordination between the Member States and outlines the main priorities for action. This report served as the basis for the joint report by the Council and the Commission, which was adopted in March 2004.

SOCIAL INCLUSION – SITUATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Overview

The action taken by the European Union to promote social inclusion must be examined in light of the overall economic downturn which Europe has suffered for the past few years. This development, which has been associated with a slowdown in employment growth and an increase in unemployment, has hampered, but not stopped, the European Union in its efforts to achieve the employment objectives set out in Lisbon and Stockholm.

The years immediately preceding the introduction of the new social inclusion strategy have seen a reduction in relative poverty, which fell from 17% in 1995 to 15% in 2001. In all countries, the poverty threshold has risen faster than the rate of inflation, implying an increase in the overall level of prosperity. Between 1998 and 2001, the risk of poverty also fell across the board.

The present report nevertheless points out that, in 2001, more than 55 million people were still facing the risk of poverty, i.e. 15% of the European population. The groups most at risk were the unemployed, single parents, elderly people living alone and families with a large number of children.

The risk of poverty varies widely from one country to another, from 10% in Sweden to 21% in Ireland. In the countries in the south, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland, vulnerable members of the population generally benefit less from prosperity and are also more at risk from the most persistent forms of poverty and privation.

Moreover, long-term unemployment, which is closely linked to social exclusion, has a significant role to play. In 2002, it affected almost 3% of the working population (or 39% of the unemployed). With a few exceptions (Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom), it affects women more than men. Nevertheless, long-term unemployment has fallen steadily since 1995, when it reached its peak of 4.9%.

Although these statistics give cause for concern, significant progress has been made in the labour market. In 2002, the average employment rate within the European Union rose from 63.4% to 64.3%. Women benefited the most, with female employment increasing by more than 1% between 2001 and 2003 (from 54.1% to 55.6%). Moreover, the employment rate of elderly people rose significantly within the EU as a whole, except for Austria, Germany and Italy.

The six major priorities associated with the Lisbon objective

In an attempt to achieve the Lisbon objective, it is necessary to ensure that those facing the risk of poverty and social exclusion do not suffer disproportionately from the effects of the economic slowdown and the resulting budget restrictions. The Member States are therefore asked to attach the greatest possible importance to the following six policy priorities:

  • promoting investment in and tailoring of active labour market measures to meet the needs of those who have the greatest difficulties in accessing employment;
  • ensuring that social protection schemes are adequate and accessible for all and that they provide effective work incentives for those who can work;
  • improving access by those most at risk of social exclusion to proper housing and healthcare, and to education and lifelong learning;
  • making a concerted effort to prevent dropping out of school and promoting a smooth transition from school to the workplace;
  • focusing on the eradication of child poverty;
  • developing a dynamic policy to reduce poverty and social exclusion among immigrants and ethnic minorities.

National action plans for social inclusion 2003

The second generation of national action plans for social inclusion are based on a less optimistic view of the economic situation than their predecessors. The current economic slowdown could place people at greater risk of poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, those who are already affected are bound to suffer as a result of the overall increase in long-term unemployment and the fact that it is now more difficult to find work.

If the fight against poverty and social exclusion is to be properly coordinated and effective, the Member States must make it part of their economic, social and employment policies.

Against this background, the eight major challenges identified in the first joint report continue to be the following:

  • developing an inclusive labour market and promoting employment as a right and opportunity for all;
  • guaranteeing an adequate income and resources to live with dignity;
  • tackling educational disadvantage by prevention and lifelong learning opportunities;
  • preserving family solidarity while promoting gender equality and protecting the individual rights and benefits of family members and the rights of the child;
  • proper accommodation for all;
  • guaranteeing equal access to quality services;
  • improving public services so that they meet local and individual needs;
  • regenerating areas of multiple hardship.

Each national action plan for social inclusion is based on very different considerations, depending on the approach and priorities of the Member State which drew it up. However, irrespective of the country concerned, the national action plan for social inclusion has to meet three basic criteria:

  • exhaustive and multidimensional approach
    Wherever possible, the national action plans for social inclusion must implement actions and policies in the different areas which affect the public. This multidimensional approach is evident in the national action plans drawn up by Belgium, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece.
  • coherent and planned approach
    The national action plans for social inclusion must be based on an in-depth analysis of the situation and must define clear and specific objectives. On the whole, the plans drawn up in 2003 were more coherent than their predecessors. A number of Member States, particularly the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, stand out because of the strategic and logical vision reflected in their plans.
  • definition of objectives
    The plans must set precise targets for eradicating poverty and social exclusion by 2010. In general, three tendencies are evident from the plans drawn up by the Member States:

– direct outcome targets: aimed directly at reducing poverty and social exclusion in a key policy area;

– intermediate outcome targets: contribute indirectly to reducing poverty and social exclusion;

– input targets: improve policy effort in a particular area.

Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are among the small number of Member States which have really established clear overall targets. In general, the approach is less systematic and focuses on problems of employment and unemployment. Few Member States take account of the male-female dimension.

SOCIAL INCLUSION – SITUATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

Belgium

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– adoption of active measures to help the labour market;
– improvement of social protection and innovation in health-care provision;
– action to combat discrimination.

– Minus points:

– increase in long-term unemployment and youth unemployment;
– rather inconclusive results as regards housing, education and lifelong learning.

  • Strategy based on:

– an active welfare state;
– access to justice, culture and rights for atypical families;
– the male-female dimension;
-immigration questions;
-efforts to combat the over-indebtedness of poor populations.

Denmark

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– one of the lowest monetary poverty rates in the European Union;
– more equal distribution of income than in most Member States;
– introduction of flexible and protected working arrangements, and a method based on the capacity for work;
– introduction of an early retirement scheme and an integrated planning programme based on the development of employment.

– Minus point: life expectancy has increased less than in other Member States.

  • Strategy based on:

– administrative bodies, local authorities and local coordination committees;
-the involvement of users, particularly the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups;
– individualisation of needs;
– voluntary work.

Germany

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– lower risk of poverty than in most Member States;
– he objective of reducing unemployment among the disabled by 25% has almost been achieved;
– introduction of a system of basic social protection designed to reduce poverty among the elderly or infirm;
– implementation of the “Social city” programme to help disadvantaged areas.

– Minus point: discrepancy between the west, where the poverty rate is 10% and the east, where it stands at 16%.

  • Strategy based on:

– a programme of objectives,
– local and regional social policy.

Greece

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– constant improvement in the macroeconomic situation;
– GDP growth is above the EU average;
– development of employment growth and fall in unemployment rate;
– improvement of the system of social protection and increase in social expenditure, in particular for vulnerable groups.

– Minus point: poverty rate is below the EU average.

  • Strategy based on:

– a convergence charter adopted in 2003, and ten national objectives which have to be achieved by 2010;
– general policies, particularly as regards economic growth and structural changes;
– specific measures designed to resolve the problems of poverty and social exclusion;
– four main lines of action: rural areas, elderly people, promotion of access to employment and the quality of management.

Spain

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– GDP growth is above the EU average;
– reduction in long-term and very long-term unemployment rate;
– extension of the fight against social exclusion at regional and local levels;
– progress in terms of cooperation between the social services and employment services;
– resources used to help vulnerable groups, particularly via financial assistance to victims of domestic violence.

– Minus point: the unemployment rate for women is still much higher than that for men, and more women than men are in temporary work.

  • Strategy based on:

– employment;
– access of groups who are at risk of or living in poverty to health care, education and housing;
-objective of reducing by 2% the number of people living below the poverty level;
– greater involvement of women with few qualifications in the labour market.

France

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: significant progress as regards access to rights, in particular health care and justice.

– Minus points:

– very weak growth, which has led to a slowdown in the creation of jobs and a rise in unemployment (9.6% in 2003);
-increase in the number of people receiving the minimum income benefit;
-housing policies are insufficient to meet the needs concerned.

  • Strategy based on:

– access to rights and employment;
-decentralisation of territorial entities and the private sector;
-quantifiable objectives covering the main aspects of the national action plan for social inclusion.

Ireland

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– drop in persistent poverty and in the school drop-out rate;
– implementation of measures to support the unemployed and promote adult literacy;
– investment in infrastructure is above the EU average.

– Minus points:

-slowdown in economic growth, leading to a slight rise in unemployment;
-increase in the risk of poverty;
-life expectancy is lower than in other Member States;
-homelessness and the cost of housing still give cause for concern.

  • Strategy based on:

– access to employment and education;
– the most vulnerable groups;
– the examination of a number of social problems.

Italy

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– significant reduction in the risk and rate of poverty;
-approval by most regions of a regional social plan enabling them more effectively to adopt strategies to combat social exclusion.

– Minus points:

– wide discrepancy between the north and the south, where the poverty rate is four times higher.

  • Strategy based on:

– the 2003 White Paper on social policy in Italy;
– a social agenda over a three-year period;
– decentralisation towards the regions and local authorities.

Luxembourg

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: employment growth has been constant.

– Minus points:

– significant fall in the GDP growth rate and rise in unemployment;
– adoption of measures relating to facilities, housing assistance and resources for disabled people and young people.

  • Strategy based on:

– participation in employment;
– reconciliation of family life and work;
– access to housing;
– social inclusion of young people;
– access of vulnerable people to resources, rights and services.

Netherlands

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– one of the lowest poverty rates in the EU;
-employment rate overall and female employment rate are well above the Lisbon objectives;
– increase in participation in the labour market of ethnic minorities, older workers and people who are alienated from the labour market.

– Minus points:

– increase in the unemployment rate by 4% in one year;
– the number of young people leaving school without qualifications is still high among certain ethnic minorities;
– health care waiting lists for health care are worrying;
– facilities for children are incomplete.

  • Strategy based on:

– an innovative model which identifies the risks of poverty being passed on from one generation to another;
– a new system of financial award based on local authorities.

Austria

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– significant drop in the overall rate of poverty risk;
– slight increase in expenditure on social protection;
– lowest school drop-our rate in the EU;
– steady increase in female employment;
– adoption of measures to help the elderly, the unemployed who are most disadvantaged, disabled people and immigrants.

– Minus points:

– progressive increase in the youth unemployment rate;
– one of the lowest rates of graduates in Europe.

  • Strategy based on:

– bringing down the school drop-out rate;
– guarantee of a minimum salary of EURO 1 000 and a tax exception up to this ceiling;
– extension of the minimum retirement scheme;
– continued integration of migrants.

Portugal

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: introduction of a minimum wage scheme and of employment promotion measures.

– Minus points:

– adverse impact of the current economic slowdown, particularly on the unemployment rate and overall productivity;
– the poverty rate is still one of the highest in the EU.

  • Strategy based on:

– very general objectives and principles, without explicitly mentioning sources of financing and budgets used;
– a “Social Network”;
– education and training;
– increasing the value of minimum retirement pensions;
– certain vulnerable groups (children, young people, the homeless, immigrants);
– access of the public to information on their social rights.

Finland

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: the Finnish social system is based on the principle of universality, the aim of which is to provide the entire population with social assistance and health care services with a view to guaranteeing resources.

– Minus points:

– impact of slowdown in growth on the demand for labour;
– increase in the unemployment rate and reduction in the employment rate.

  • Strategy based on:

– the existing system of social protection, based on the principle of decentralisation;
-a timetable for monitoring the implementation of all measures;
-four major policies: promoting health and working life, making working life more attractive, preventing and combating social exclusion and guaranteeing effective services.

Sweden

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– the proportion of GDP used for expenditure on social protection is the highest in the EU;
– lowest poverty rate in the EU;
– distribution of income is relatively equal;
– very high employment rate and very low unemployment rate;
-increased effort to promote social integration and reduction in the percentage of recipients of social assistance.

– Minus point: the objective of reducing dependence on social assistance by half and increasing the employment rate to 80% by 2004 will be difficult to achieve.

  • Strategy based on:

– a high employment rate, achieved through a number of measures allowing individuals to work and meet their needs;
– a significant reduction in the number of people at risk of poverty by 2010;
– integration of the male-female dimension.

United Kingdom

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– high employment level and low unemployment level;
– considerable resources used to help vulnerable groups.

– Minus points:
– poverty rate is above the European average,
– social disparity is still marked.

  • Strategy based on:

– a strategy to combat poverty and social exclusion involving a large number of people;
– high quality public services;
– particularly disadvantaged groups;
– the eradication of child poverty by 2020;
– promoting access to the employment market and to skilled work;
– high and stable employment levels.

CONTEXT

The Lisbon European Council of March 2000 asked the Member States and the Commission to take ambitious and effective measures by 2010 to eradicate poverty. It was also suggested that they should coordinate their policies to combat poverty and social exclusion in order to pool their objectives, indicators and national action plans.

In December 2000, the Nice European Council decided to launch a new method of combating poverty and social exclusion, based on four objectives:

  • promoting participation in employment and access by all to resources, rights, goods and services;
  • preventing the risks of exclusion;
  • action to help the most vulnerable;
  • mobilising all relevant bodies.

In this context, the national action plans for social inclusion, which were submitted in June 2001, aimed to translate the common objectives into national policies, while taking account of the situation in each Member State, and the different national systems of social protection.

The national action plans for social inclusion were examined in depth by the European Commission and the Member States in the joint report on social inclusion approved by the Laeken European Council in December 2001.

In December 2002, the European Council asked the Member States to prepare a second set of national action plans for social inclusion for July 2003.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 10 October 2001 concerning the draft joint report on social inclusion (2000-2002) [COM(2001) 565 – Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission staff working paper. Social inclusion in the new Member States. A synthesis of the joint memoranda on social inclusion [SEC(2004) 848].

The Gothenburg European Council asked the new Member States to transpose into their national policies the social, environmental and economic objectives of the European Union.

Against this background, the Joint Inclusion Memoranda (JIM) reflect the political commitment of the new Member States to attach greater importance to combating poverty and social exclusion.

Social exclusion is a thorny problem in most of the new Member States and is largely the result of their readjustment to a market economy. This profound change resulted in a severe fall in production and a significant increase in the unemployment rate, particularly in the Baltic States, Poland and Slovakia.

In absolute terms, the risk of poverty in the new Member States is comparable with that in the old Member States. However, salary levels in the new Member States are much lower and people living below the poverty level experience living conditions which are significantly worse than those in the other countries in the EU.

The worrying levels of poverty highlighted in the Joint Inclusion Memoranda prove that the need for action is urgent. In this regard, six main challenges have been identified:

  • expand employment market policies in order to improve the integration of those groups who are most at risk;
  • ensure that social security systems guarantee an adequate minimum wage which enables everyone to live with dignity;
  • increase the opportunities available in the fields of education and lifelong learning, particularly for those at risk of poverty and social exclusion;
  • improve the quality of public services;
  • step up efforts to combat very high levels of exclusion and discrimination against certain ethnic groups, such as the Roma, and other very vulnerable groups;
  • strengthen policies to support the family and social assistance networks and reinforce the protection of children’s rights.

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 4 June 2004 on the managed entry in the EU of persons in need of international protection and the enhancement of the protection capacity of the regions of origin: “improving access to durable solutions” [COM(2004)410 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

In this communication the Commission sets out recommendations for practical measures to implement the Thessaloniki mandate, given that the majority of applications for asylum in the EU do not fulfil the conditions for obtaining international protection. The Commission concludes that there is a need for better management of the entry of refugees into EU territory, looking ahead to a common asylum policy.

In an effort to find lasting solutions to the influx of refugees into the EU, the Commission focuses on three elements of asylum policy: the managed entry of asylum-seekers into the EU, enhanced protection in the regions of origin and the creation of EU regional protection programmes.

Managed entry of refugees into the EU

The Commission believes that the resettlement of refugees, which is often given a lower priority than voluntary repatriation, could play an important part in EU asylum policy. It therefore advocates the introduction of an EU-wide resettlement programme. All Member States would participate, but the scheme would be flexible and non-binding.

The main objective of the resettlement programme would be to provide international protection by facilitating the organised arrival of refugees in the EU. The programme’s watchword would be flexibility and it would be situation-specific. It would target a constant but limited number of refugees and could be adjusted according to the capacity of the Member States to accommodate asylum-seekers. Targets would be set at European level.

Resettlement would primarily affect individuals qualifying for international protection and groups of refugees regarded by the EU as particularly vulnerable. Candidates would be selected on the basis of interviews with the immigration services of the Member States during visits to the region of origin. The selection criteria could be agreed collectively or be specific to the Member States. There could be a role for NGOs in helping candidates to prepare their dossiers.

The logistical arrangements could be modelled on the resettlement programmes currently operating in certain European countries under the auspices of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Transport could be organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The EU would also provide technical assistance to the Member States for the preparation, referral, and selection of resettlement cases.

Protection of refugees in the regions of origin

The Commission agrees with the UNHCR that the international community should equip the countries of first asylum with the necessary means to be able to guarantee refugees protection that meets international standards. The Commission therefore emphasises the need to help these countries, located in the regions from which refugees originate, to enhance their legal and administrative capacity and to ensure greater respect for human rights and the rule of law.

In practical terms, the Commission advocates more efficient processing of asylum applications and better integration of applicants from third countries in the region of origin. Refugees will then be able to integrate in one of these countries of first asylum if there is no possibility of them returning to their country of origin or being resettled.

In the Commission’s view, the system of protection for refugees should serve two purposes: to assess and enhance the sustainable protection capacity of the host country. In the medium to long term, the aim would be to introduce targeted technical assistance based on the following principles:

  • accession and adherence to refugee instruments and other international humanitarian law treaties;
  • the creation of national legal frameworks consistent with international rules on refugees and asylum;
  • registration of asylum-seekers and refugees and preparation of detailed written documentation on their applications;
  • the establishment of admission and reception conditions for asylum-seekers that comply with the relevant national and international standards;
  • support for economic self-reliance and local integration of refugees and asylum-seekers.

The Commission believes that the ability of a state to offer effective protection to asylum-seekers can be assessed in the light of compliance with certain principles:

  • there is no threat to life and liberty on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion;
  • the principle of non-refoulement is respected;
  • the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is respected, as is the prohibition on any form of removal that would expose the asylum-seeker to the risk of such treatment;
  • it is possible to apply for refugee status and receive protection under the Geneva Convention;
  • it is possible to live a safe and dignified life.

The Commission proposes using as a reference point the new AENEAS programme for financial and technical assistance to third countries in the area of migration and asylum. This financial instrument would enable Member States, third countries, international organisations and NGOs to set up projects to enhance refugee protection capacity in the countries of their region of origin.

EU regional protection programmes

In order to enhance the protection capacity of third countries and to manage the entry of refugees into European territory more effectively, the Commission was asked to propose EU regional protection programmes, to be devised in partnership with the third countries of the region in question. These multiannual programmes would be accompanied by:

  • a list and an agenda for action
  • projects to be implemented in the area of asylum and migration
  • regional and country strategy papers.

They would also provide the framework for action by the Member States in a given country or region. The UNHCR would play a crucial role in the development and implementation of these programmes.

These EU regional protection programmes would provide a “tool box” of protection measures comprising:

  • action to enhance protection capacity;
  • a biometric registration scheme;
  • an EU-wide resettlement scheme;
  • assistance for improving the local infrastructure;
  • aid to promote local integration of asylum-seekers;
  • cooperation on legal migration;
  • action on migration management;
  • return policy.

Background

The General Affairs and External Relations Council on 19 May 2003 had urged the Commission to examine ways of strengthening the reception capacity of third countries, for example through development cooperation. The analysis was to take into account the financial and institutional capacity of many developing countries and the burden that refugees might place on these structures.

The European Council in Thessaloniki on 19 and 20 June 2003 then asked the Commission to consider ways of improving the management of entry into the EU of refugees requiring international protection and ensuring better protection in their regions of origin.

Finally, in October 2003, at a seminar organised by the Italian EU Presidency in Rome, the Member States defended the idea of an EU-wide resettlement programme. This would be a useful tool that would allow policy-makers to find comprehensive solutions to refugee situations and to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking. The managed arrival of asylum-seekers would also be a way of counteracting racism and xenophobia, because public opinion would probably be more receptive.

Related Acts

Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted [Official Journal L 304, 30.09.2004]

Communication from the Commission of 3 June 2003 “Towards more accessible, equitable and managed asylum systems” [COM(2003) 315 final – Official Journal C 76/21 of 25.03.2004] 
The Commission notes the failings of the current system of international protection and concludes that a common European asylum system needed to be put in place progressively. It identifies three objectives:

  • managed arrival of asylum-seekers on EU territory;
  • burden- and responsibility sharing within the EU and with the regions of origin;
  • the introduction of efficient procedures resulting in enforceable decisions on asylum and return.

Communication from the Commission of 26 March 2003 on the common asylum policy and the Agenda for protection [COM(2003) 152 final – Official Journal C 76/2 of 25.03.2004]
In this communication, the Commission considers ways of ensuring that the Member States’ human and financial resources were invested more effectively in the reception of asylum-seekers. It identifies three complementary objectives for improving the management of asylum:

  • improving the quality of decisions in the EU;
  • consolidating protection capacity and the processing of protection requests in the region of origin, with a view to sharing responsibilities with the third countries;
  • regulated access to the EU for certain people requiring international protection.

Communication from the Commission of 3 December 2002 “Integrating migration issues in the European Union’s relations with third countries” [COM(2002) 703 final – Not published in the Official Journal]
This communication presents the various measures taken by the Community for refugees, with particular reference to humanitarian aid and development cooperation. The Commission concludes that this assistance is neither sufficient nor adapted to the needs of long-term refugees. It also underlines the importance of initiatives linking emergency aid and rehabilitation to development cooperation and cites Community initiatives such as the European Development Fund (EDF) the MEDA programme and the CARDS programme

Communication from the Commission of 22 November 2000 “Towards a common asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the Union, for persons granted asylum” [COM(2000) 755 final – Not published in the Official Journal]
In this communication the Commission suggests that processing asylum applications in the region of origin, combined with a resettlement scheme, could be a way of offering protection to refugees and ensuring that they did not fall victim to gangs engaged in illegal immigration or trafficking. An added advantage would be that asylum-seekers would not have to wait for years to obtain recognition of their status.

 

Part-time working

Part-time working

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Part-time working

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social dialogue and employee participation

Part-time working

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time working concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC. [See amending acts].

Summary

The purpose of the Directive is to implement the framework agreement on part-time work concluded on 6 June 1997 by the general cross-industry organisations (UNICE, CEEP, ETUC).

Content of the framework agreement

The purpose of the agreement is to eliminate discrimination against part-time workers * and to improve the quality of part-time work. It also aims to facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis and to contribute to the flexible organisation of working time in a manner which takes into account the needs of employers and workers.

The agreement applies to part-time workers who have an employment contract or employment relationship as defined by the laws, collective agreements or practices in force in each Member State.

Employment conditions

In respect of employment conditions, part-time workers may not be treated in a less favourable manner than comparable full-time workers * solely because they work part-time, unless different treatment is justified on objective grounds.

The social partners and/or Member States after consulting the social partners may, where appropriate, make access to particular conditions of employment subject to a period of service, time worked or earnings qualification.

Access to part-time work

The social partners and/or Member States after consulting the social partners should identify and review obstacles which may limit the opportunities for part-time work and, where appropriate, eliminate them.

Needs of employers and workers

A worker’s refusal to transfer from full-time to part-time work or vice versa should not in itself constitute a valid reason for dismissal.

Wherever possible, employers should give consideration to:

  • requests by workers to transfer from full-time to part-time work that becomes available in the establishment;
  • requests by workers to transfer from part-time to full-time work or to increase their working time should the opportunity arise;
  • the provision of timely information on the availability of part-time and full-time jobs in the establishment;
  • measures to facilitate access to part-time work at all levels of the enterprise;
  • the provision of appropriate information to workers’ representatives about part-time working in the enterprise.

More favourable provisions

Member States and/or social partners can maintain or introduce more favourable provisions than set out in the agreement. Implementation of the provisions of the agreement does not constitute valid grounds for reducing the general level of protection afforded to workers in the field of the agreement.

Background

Member States must bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive within two years of its entry into force, or ensure that the social partners have, by that date, introduced the necessary measures by agreement. Member States may have a maximum of one more year, if necessary to take account of special difficulties or implementation by a collective agreement. They must inform the Commission forthwith in such circumstances.

Directive 98/23/EC extends Directive 97/81/EC to the United Kingdom.

Key terms used in the act
  • Part-time worker: an employee whose normal hours of work, calculated on a weekly basis or on average over a period of employment of up to one year, are less than the normal hours of work of a comparable full-time worker.
  • Comparable full-time worker: a full-time worker in the same establishment having the same type of employment contract or relationship, who is engaged in the same or a similar work/occupation.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 97/81/EC 20.1.1998 20.1.2000 OJ L 14 of 20. 1. 1998
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 98/23/EC 25.5.1998 7.4.2000 OJ L 131 of 5. 5. 1998

Parental leave

Parental leave

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Parental leave

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social dialogue and employee participation

Parental leave

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

Workers are entitled to parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child. Such leave may be taken until the child has reached an age determined by national law and/or collective agreements, but before the age of eight.

This Directive applies equally to all workers, men and women, irrespective of their type of employment contract (open-ended, fixed-term, part-time or temporary).

Parental leave shall be granted for at least a period of four months. In principle, workers should be able to take all of their leave. It should therefore not be transferable from one parent to the other. However, such transfers may be authorised on condition that each parent retains at least one of the four months of leave.

Taking of leave

The conditions of access to leave and adaptability of leave shall be defined by national law and/or collective agreements. For example, European Union (EU) States and/or social partners may:

  • adapt leave to the needs of parents and employers, by granting leave on a full-time or part-time basis, in a piecemeal way or in the form of a time-credit system;
  • make this right subject to a length of service qualification which shall not exceed one year. Where appropriate, that period shall be calculated taking account of all of the successive fixed-term contracts concluded with the same employer;
  • authorise the postponement of leave by the employer, for justifiable reasons related to the organisation;
  • authorise special arrangements to ensure the proper operation of small undertakings.

Workers wishing to take parental leave must give notice to the employer. The period of notice shall be specified in each EU country taking into account the interests of workers and of employers.

Each EU country shall also be encouraged to define additional measures and/or the specific conditions for the taking of leave by adoptive parents and parents of children with a disability or a long-term illness.

Return to work and non-discrimination

After taking parental leave, workers shall have the right to return to the same job. If that is not possible, the employer must offer them an equivalent or similar job consistent with their employment contract or employment relationship.

In addition, rights acquired or in the process of being acquired by the worker on the date on which parental leave starts:

  • shall be maintained as they stand until the end of the leave;
  • shall apply at the end of the leave, as shall all changes arising from national law, collective agreements and/or practice.

Similarly, workers shall be protected against less favourable treatment or dismissal on the grounds of an application for, or the taking of, parental leave.

All matters regarding social security and income in relation to parental leave are for determination by EU States and/or national social partners. The Agreement does not therefore contain any stipulations concerning the payment of salary or compensation during parental leave.

Finally, on their return from leave, workers must be able to request changes to their working hours and/or patterns for a set period of time. Employers shall consider and respond to such requests, taking into account both employers’ and workers’ needs.

Leave on grounds of force majeure

Workers may also request leave on grounds of force majeure for family reasons. Such leave may be requested in particular in cases of sickness or accident making the immediate presence of the worker within the family indispensable.

Context

This Directive introduces the revised Framework Agreement concluded by the European social partners on 18 June 2009. This Agreement follows the Framework Agreement of 14 December 1995 on parental leave.

References

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

Directive 2010/18/EU

7.4.2010

8.3.2012

OJ L 68 of 18.3.2010