Tag Archives: Social policy

Employment and Social Policy

Employment and Social Policy

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

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

Employment and social policy

Employment and social policy

European society is changing, influenced by different factors such as technological progress, the globalisation of trade and an ageing population. European employment, social affairs and equal opportunities policies contribute to improving people’s living conditions with a view to sustainable growth and greater social cohesion. The European Union (EU) plays the role of a trigger in social change. It has introduced a protective legal framework for European citizens. It fosters the cooperation of Member States, the coordination and harmonisation of national policies, and the participation of local authorities, unions, employers’ organisations and other stakeholders involved.

The priority aims of this policy are to increase employment and worker mobility, to improve the quality of jobs and, working conditions, to inform and consult workers, to combat poverty and social exclusion, to promote equality between men and women, and to modernise social protection systems.

Employment and social policy Contents

  • European Strategy for Growth: Europe 2020 Strategy, Intelligent growth, Sustainable growth, Inclusive growth
  • Priorities and objectives: the social agenda:Social agenda
  • Community employment policies: Partnership for growth and employment, Legal instruments for Community employment policies, Skills and mobility, Quality of employment
  • Social and employment situation in europe: Reports, Statistics
  • Job creation measures: General job creation measures, Promoting employment at a local level, Sectoral job creation promotion
  • Employment rights and work organisation: Protection of employee’s rights, Organisation of working time, Corporate social responsibility
  • Social dialogue and employee participation: Cross-industry social dialogue, Sectoral social dialogue, Information, consultation and participation of employees
  • Health, hygiene and safety at work: Equipment, signs and loads, Protection of specific groups of workers, The workplace, Chemical, physical and biological agents
  • Social protection: Coordination of social security regimes, Supplementary pension schemes, Modernising social protection
  • Equality between men and women: Gender mainstreaming, Female employment and entrepreneurship, Combating sexual harassment and violence against women
  • Social measures for target groups: disability and old age: Equal opportunities, Rights and dignity of handicapped persons, Pensions and healthcare for the elderly, Demographic changes
  • Social inclusion and the fight against poverty: Combating social exclusion, Social protection and the fight against poverty
  • Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society: Combating discrimination, Fundemental social rights, Relations with civil society
  • Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement: Social development, Measures aimed at target groups, Enlargement

European Youth Pact

European Youth Pact

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Youth Pact

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

Education training youth sport > Youth

European Youth Pact

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 30 May 2005 on European policies concerning youth: Addressing the concerns of young people in Europe – implementing the European Youth Pact and promoting active citizenship [COM(2005) 206 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Communication draws attention to the three strands of the Pact adopted by the European Council in March 2005:

  • employment, integration and social advancement;
  • education, training and mobility;
  • reconciliation of family life and working life.

The measures to be taken in these three areas will have to be fully incorporated into the revised Lisbon Strategy, the European Employment Strategy, the Social Inclusion Strategy and the ” Education and Training 2010 ” work programme.

For the purpose of implementing the different measures, the Member States will draw on the “integrated guidelines for growth and employment”, within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy.

The Commission’s text highlights the aspects of the integrated guidelines and the Community Lisbon programme that are relevant to the Pact.

Measures for the employment, integration and social advancement of young people

The following guidelines have the most relevance for young people:

  • promotion of a life-cycle approach to work (entailing, inter alia, renewed efforts to build employment pathways for young people and to reduce youth unemployment, in tandem with resolute action to eliminate gender gaps in employment, unemployment and pay);
  • creation of inclusive labour markets for job-seekers and disadvantaged people;
  • improvement in the matching of labour market needs;
  • expansion of investment in human capital;
  • adjustment of education and training systems in response to new skills requirements.

The Member States will receive financial assistance from the European Social Fund and the European Investment Bank for implementing the necessary measures. The Commission wants the Member States to devise tailor-made action plans providing job search assistance, guidance services and training. The Communication also proposes that:

  • the Commission and the Member States give priority to young people in the mutual learning programme on employment in 2005;
  • the Commission and the Member States, through the Social Inclusion Strategy, improve the situation of the most vulnerable young people;
  • the Commission launch a study on the social integration of highly disadvantaged young people in 2005.

Measures for education, training and mobility

The priorities are:

  • reducing the number of early school leavers;
  • widening access to vocational, secondary and higher education, including apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training;
  • defining common frameworks to make qualification systems more transparent;
  • tackling the validation of non-formal and informal learning;
  • implementing the Europass decision;
  • developing a “Youthpass”.

The Commission intends, during 2005 and 2006, to:

  • adopt a Communication on entrepreneurship education;
  • propose a European Qualifications Framework;
  • adopt a Recommendation on key competences.

The Communication looks at ways of enhancing young people’s mobility, highlighting a number of initiatives:

  • in 2006, the European Year of Worker Mobility, specific initiatives will be taken for the benefit of young people entering the job market;
  • from 2007, there will be follow-up to the 2002-05 action plan of the Commission and the Member States for skills and mobility;
  • the Member States will be asked to boost implementation of the Recommendation on the mobility of students, persons undergoing training, volunteers, teachers and trainers;
  • the Commission will adapt tools such as EURES and PLOTEUS with a view to enhancing the opportunities for young people to work and study abroad;
  • the Commission will, in 2005, make recommendations on a mobility card for young people in Europe;
  • the Commission will think about extending the “Working holidays” initiative;
  • the Commission and the Member States will, in 2007, implement new forms of European Voluntary Service.

Measures for reconciling family life and working life

The Communication makes it clear that a better balance is needed between work and family life in order to tackle the problems associated with demographic ageing and a low birth rate. With a view to better reconciling family and working life, the Commission will encourage:

  • the Member States to make provision for quality accessible and affordable childcare facilities and care for other dependants;
  • the Member States, assisted by the Commission, to develop new forms of work organisation, such as flexitime, tele-working, maternity and parental leave.

Following on from the Green Paper on Europe’s changing demographics, the Commission has launched a process of consultation with the aim of identifying policies to be pursued or reinforced at European and national levels.

THE ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP OF YOUNG PEOPLE

The citizenship of young people is a focal point of the open method of coordination. With a view to improving participation, information, voluntary activities and knowledge of youth issues, the Council adopted 14 common objectives in 2003 and 2004. In its Communication of October 2004 [COM(2004) 694 final], the Commission gave a positive evaluation of the activities conducted at European level, while stressing the need for suitable measures at national level to consolidate the common objectives.

The Pact and associated actions ought to give rise to better understanding and greater knowledge of youth in the areas concerned, namely:

  • employment;
  • integration and inclusion;
  • entrepreneurship;
  • mobility;
  • recognition of youth work.

THE YOUTH DIMENSION IN OTHER POLICIES

The Communication draws attention to other policies which are relevant to young people:

  • since 2005, the European campaign “For Diversity – Against Discrimination” has been extended to young people;
  • a European initiative for the health of children and young people is planned for 2006;
  • studies focusing specifically on youth will be undertaken as part of the Sixth Research Framework Programme;
  • the Seventh Research Framework Programme will include youth-related research, which could focus on the impact of young people’s participation in representative democracy and voluntary activities;
  • the Commission will launch, in 2005, a public consultation on sport.

SUPPORT PROGRAMME

Policy actions targeting young people should be accompanied by programmes supporting projects that encourage young people to become active citizens. Various European programmes support such projects:

  • European Social Fund;
  • European Regional Development Fund;
  • Rural Development Fund;
  • ” Youth ” and “Youth in Action”;
  • Integrated Lifelong Learning Programme;
  • ” Citizens for Europe “;
  • Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme;
  • Marie Curie Programme;
  • European Science Education Initiative.

INVOLVEMENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE

As far as the Pact itself is concerned, the European Council has emphasised the need to consult young people and their organisations both on the development of national reform programmes for the Lisbon Strategy and on follow-up action. National youth councils should, in any event, be among those consulted.

The Commission also intends to consult young people and the European Youth Forum on youth policy. This consultation process will culminate in the holding of a Youth Assembly in 2005. In addition, the Commission hopes that this assembly will be a precursor of “annual encounters” between young people and Commissioners.

BACKGROUND

This Communication builds on the European Youth Pact adopted by the Heads of State or Government during the European Council of March 2005.

Adoption of the Pact coincides with the completion of the first cycle of implementing the White Paper on a new impetus for European youth, published in 2001.

Related Acts

Resolution of the Council of 24 November 2005 on addressing the concerns of young people in Europe — implementing the European Pact for Youth and promoting active citizenship[Official Journal C 292/5 of 24.11.2005]
The Council invites the Member States to develop structured dialogue with young people and their organisations at national, regional and local level on policy actions affecting them, with the involvement of researchers in the youth field. It calls on the Member States and the Commission to:

  • encourage the recognition of non-formal and informal learning, for example through developing a “Youthpass” and considering its inclusion in Europass, and consider the validation of such learning;
  • identify obstacles to and exchange, develop and apply good practice concerning young people’s mobility in order to make it easier for them to work, volunteer, train and study throughout the European Union and further afield;
  • evaluate the framework for European cooperation in the youth field in 2009.

Conclusions of the Council Presidency at the end of the European Council meeting on 22 and 23 March 2005

The European Council called on the Member states, within the framework of the European Employment Strategy and the Social Inclusion Strategy, to improve the education, training, mobility, vocational integration and social inclusion of young people, while facilitating the reconciliation of working life and family life.

The Pact should ensure the overall consistency of initiatives to be taken in these different areas. Its success depends on the involvement of all parties concerned, first and foremost youth organisations.

Social Protection Committee

Social Protection Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social Protection Committee

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Employment and social policy > Social protection

Social Protection Committee

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2004/689/EC of 4 October 2004 establishing a Social Protection Committee and repealing Decision 2000/436/EC [Official Journal L 314 of 13.10.2004].

Summary

This Council Decision establishes the Social Protection Committee and repeals Decision 2000/436/EC based on the Commission’s communication ” A Concerted Strategy for modernising social protection “. The aim of this communication was to reflect on the importance of the convergence of social protection objectives and policies and to reaffirm the place of this social protection among the common values of the European Union (EU).

The Social Protection Committee was set up to promote cooperation on social protection policies between Member States and the Commission. Its main objectives are to:

  • make work pay and provide secure income;
  • make pensions safe and pension systems sustainable;
  • promote social inclusion;
  • ensure high-quality and sustainable health care.

The Social Protection Committee, which has an advisory role, consists of two representatives appointed by each Member State and two representatives of the Commission. It may also establish appropriate contacts with the social partners and social non-governmental organisations.

The new Committee retains all the tasks of the former Social Protection Committee, namely:

  • monitoring the social situation and the development of social protection policies in the Member States and the Community;
  • exchanges of information, experience and good practice;
  • preparing reports, formulating opinions or undertaking other work within its fields of competence, at the request of either the Council or the Commission or on its own initiative.

In practice, since its foundation, the Committee’s work has been largely determined by the strategic objective which the Union set itself in terms of socio-economic progress at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”.

Background

The legal basis for the Social Protection Committee is Article 144 of the Treaty of Nice, which provides for the creation of a new Social Protection Committee to promote cooperation on social protection policies between the Member States and the Commission. The purpose of the decision to replace the former committee with this one is essentially procedural – to establish the Committee in line with the new legal basis.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2004/689/EC Official Journal L 314 of 13.10.2004

Related Acts

Council Decision 2000/436/EC of 29 June 2000 setting up a Social Protection Committee [COM(2000) 436, Official Journal L 172 of 12.07.2000].
On 29 June 2000, the Council approved the Commission’s proposal to help Member States to improve and strengthen their social protection systems. In this communication, the Commission proposes to begin a new phase in the process of examining social protection systems at Community level. To this end, the Council supported the Commission’s suggestion to establish a mechanism for enhanced cooperation brought about by the work of the group of high-level officials for the improvement of social protection systems. This group of officials laid the foundations of the Social Protection Committee.

The Social Protection Committee has clearly shown its usefulness as an advisory body for both the Council and the Commission, and it has been actively involved in developing the open method of coordination as defined by the Lisbon European Council.

The Future Evolution of Social Protection from a Long-Term Point of View: Safe and Sustainable Pensions

The Future Evolution of Social Protection from a Long-Term Point of View: Safe and Sustainable Pensions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Future Evolution of Social Protection from a Long-Term Point of View: Safe and Sustainable Pensions

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Employment and social policy > Social protection

The Future Evolution of Social Protection from a Long-Term Point of View: Safe and Sustainable Pensions

Last updated: 07.03.2005

The Social Policy Agenda

The Social Policy Agenda

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Social Policy Agenda

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Employment and social policy > Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

The Social Policy Agenda (2006-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission. The Social Agenda [COM(2005) 33 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication identifies the priorities that should guide the European Union’s action in the development of the European social model. It is also intended to promote social cohesion as part both of the Lisbon strategy and the Sustainable Development Strategy. This review of the Agenda has a key role in promoting the social dimension of economic growth and improving the implementation of the measures foreseen by the old Social Agenda (2000-2005).

The added value of the Social Agenda is beyond doubt because it facilitates the modernisation of national systems against a background of far-reaching economic and social changes. It supports the harmonious operation of the single market while ensuring respect for fundamental rights and common values.

The Agenda develops a two-pronged strategy: Firstly, it emphasises its role in strengthening citizens’ confidence; secondly, it presents key measures under two major headings, namely employment and equal opportunities and inclusion.

STRENGTHENING CITIZENS’ CONFIDENCE

The measures proposed are designed to enable citizens to gain confidence in their own ability to effectively manage change, viz.: increased competition in a global context, technological development and population ageing.

In this context, the Agenda presents several key conditions:

  • an intergenerational approach;
  • a partnership for change;
  • integration of the external dimension

An intergenerational approach

The changes brought about by the demographic development – notably the ageing of the European populations – the need to adapt systems of social protection and pensions to these changes, the need to improve the integration of young people and to address the whole question of migration are major challenges.

To this end, the Commission plans to analyse future challenges and proposes a series of measures to analyse the demographic changes of European populations.

A partnership for change

Given that the partnership between the authorities, the social partners and civil society is one of the keys to the success of European policies, the Commission will propose the organisation of an annual meeting of all players concerned in a forum. The aim of this meeting will be to evaluate the implementation of the Agenda on a regular basis.

Integration of the external dimension

The Commission also plans to incorporate the European social model into external dialogue and measures at bilateral, regional and multilateral level

THE TWO PRIORITY AREAS

The two priority areas concerning the strategic objectives of the new Agenda are:

  • employment, under the prosperity objective;
  • equal opportunities and inclusion, under the solidarity objective.

Achieving full employment

In order to attain the Lisbon growth and jobs objectives, the Commission has proposed a revamped cycle of the European Employment Strategy (EES) in the framework of the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy. This new cycle should underpin long-term economic growth, combat unemployment and regional disparities and promote social cohesion.

To ensure that the European Social Fund fosters convergence, employment and competitiveness, the Commission plans to put forward several measures, notably a measure to sensitise the ESF players in 2006 and a communication campaign among parliaments and players concerned in 2006-2007.

The Commission also proposes developing a strategy for anticipating, triggering and managing economic change more effectively. This strategy is developed around four themes:

  • greater interplay between European policies;
  • greater involvement of the social partners;
  • greater synergy between policies and their financial levers, especially the ESF;
  • a stronger link between the EES and the development of the legal frameworks and social partners’ agreements.

In this new Agenda, the Commission also introduces a new dynamic for industrial relations and provides for several initiatives concerning the development of labour law, health and safety at work and corporate social responsibility

The Commission considers that the creation of a genuine European labour market is essential. This objective implies both removing the remaining direct and indirect barriers and, besides, drawing up policies that create the conditions for the players concerned to derive maximum benefit from the European area.

With a view to giving the social partners a basis for increasing their capacity to act at transnational level, the Commission plans to adopt a proposal designed to make it possible for the social partners to formalise the nature and results of transnational collective bargaining in an optimal way.

Equal opportunities and inclusion

The EU has been a driving force in implementing the principle of equal treatment. As the current framework strategy 2000-2005 comes to an end, the Commission plans to propose several actions to resolve such problems as the gender pay gap, women’s access to and participation in the labour market, training, career advancement, reconciliation of family and working life, equal opportunities for the disabled, etc.

The Commission also plans to organise a European year of equal opportunities in 2007 with a view to highlighting the results achieved and showing the advantages of diversity for the economy and society of Europe.

The renewed social agenda

The renewed social agenda

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The renewed social agenda

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Employment and social policy > Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

The renewed social agenda

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – Renewed social agenda: Opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe COM(2008) 412 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication establishes the priorities which should direct European social policy for the period 2008-2010. The renewed social agenda is based upon the results of the Lisbon Strategy with regard to economic stability and employment. Furthermore, so as to better respond to the socio-economic challenges of the XXIst century, its scope is extended to new areas of policy action structured around three goals:

  • creating new opportunities in the employment market;
  • facilitating access to education, social protection, health care and quality services for all;
  • developing solidarity at the heart of European society, so to foster social inclusion and equal opportunities for all.


These goals will be achieved, at Community level, through the implementation of legislation, appropriate financing and the cooperation of Member States. The Commission supports the renewal of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the area of youth and the reinforcement of the OMC in the areas of social protection and social inclusion as well as the development of social dialogue, civil dialogue and active European citizenship.

PRIORITY AREAS FOR ACTION

Children and youth

Quality education systems adapted to the needs of the employment market should contribute to the inclusion of young people in society. New initiatives from the Commission should, in particular, target the protection of the rights of the child and the fight against child poverty.

More and better jobs and the enhancement of skills

In line with the Lisbon Strategy and the European Sustainable Development Strategy, the social agenda encourages the modernisation of employment markets. To this end, Member States should apply common principles relating to flexicurity and promoting lifelong education and training.

In particular the Commission proposes to improve the functioning of European Works Councils. The Commission announces a new initiative for the assessment of labour market and skills needs up to 2020. It also promotes entrepreneurship and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Mobility

The Commission should pursue actions promoting the free movement of workers, the protection of their social rights and their working conditions, as well as the total suppression of obstacles to their free movement within the European Union (EU). Social partners must take an active part in achieving the objectives of the European Job Mobility Action Plan.

The Commission proposes action in favour of the mobility of knowledge, notably with the aim of facilitating the mobility of researchers, young entrepreneurs, students and volunteers.

Improving the quality of life and the inclusion of the elderly

In the context of an ageing European society, Member States should be able to ensure quality, viable and accessible health systems. The Commission proposes, in particular, the development of patients’ rights to cross-border health care. It supports the development of ICTs in the field of health care, personal services and research.

The fight against poverty and social exclusion

The social agenda anticipates an integrated strategy of active inclusion of the most disadvantaged such as the unemployed, the handicapped, the elderly and women. It aims at encouraging income support, access to employment and services, the information society, education and training.

The fight against discrimination

The Commission pursues the reinforcing of the legal framework with regard to the fight against discrimination both within and outside the field of employment. Community policies specifically target equal treatment between men and women, notably through the promotion of access by women to the labour market and equal pay between men and women.

The promotion of social rights at worldwide level

The EU plays a role at international level in promoting high social standards protecting workers, consumers and the environment. The action is carried out within the framework of external cooperation agreements, trade policies, development assistance and EU accession negotiations. The Commission also encourages Member States to apply the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

CONTEXT

In 2007 the Commission launched a public consultation in order to take stock of social reality in Europe. The renewed social agenda takes into account the global economic slowdown, the ageing population and the latest technological progress.

The goals and measures in the social agenda will be reviewed in 2010 together with the Lisbon Strategy.

Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

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

Employment and social policy > Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

Priorities and objectives: the social agenda

The aim of the European Unions social policy is to promote employment, the improvement of living and working conditions, an appropriate level of social protection, dialogue with the social partners, development of human resources so as to ensure a high and sustainable employment level, and measures to combat exclusion. The new Social Agenda for the period 2006 2010 is set in the context of the relaunching of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. It responds to the European objectives of solidarity and prosperity through fundamental priorities: employment, and action to tackle poverty and promote equal opportunities.

THE SOCIAL AGENDA

  • The renewed social agenda
  • The Social Policy Agenda (2006-2010)
  • Agenda for social policy (2000-2005)
  • Mid-term review of the Social Policy Agenda
  • Scoreboard on implementing the 2004 social policy agenda

PRIORITIES AND OBJECTIVES

  • Towards a new social vision for 21st century Europe
  • European Globalisation Adjustment Fund
  • European values in a globalised world

European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change

European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change

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

Employment and social policy > Social dialogue and employee participation

European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 26 June 2002 – European social dialogue, a force for innovation and change [COM(2002) 341 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a set of guidelines aimed at strengthening the social dialogue, in other words the social partners’ contribution to the work of the public institutions, in order to improve public governance and economic and social reform within the European Union (EU).

Developing the social dialogue within the EU

First, the Commission wishes to increase the consultation of the social partners in the drafting of European legislation. Consulting the social partners is compulsory in the areas of employment and social policy but optional concerning sectoral issues and the transposition of European legislation at national level.

The Commission is keen to extend this consultation to all legislative initiatives having social repercussions. It will also improve the procedures and rules for consultation.

In addition, the effectiveness of the social dialogue is linked to the representativeness of the social partners at European level. The Commission therefore encourages co-operation between national organisations and the improvement of their internal governance.

The social partners are also encouraged to broaden and enhance the social dialogue by concluding more agreements to be integrated into European law and by developing the processes for sectoral and intersectoral dialogue.

The Commission wishes to raise the profile of the results of European social dialogue. For example, it will organise meetings at EU level and within the Member States but will also distribute information by publishing regular reports and setting up a specific Internet site.

Finally, the EU supports the improvement of social dialogue at all levels of governance. The Commission therefore proposes, in particular, to improve training for the European social partners and representatives of national authorities, and to promote local social dialogue and corporate social responsibility.

Contribution to growth and employment

The actions of the social partners contribute to the attainment of the growth and employment goals set by the Lisbon Strategy. These goals are associated in particular with the management of change in the organisation of work, employee training, the promotion of equal opportunities and active ageing policies.

In this context, the Commission will analyse and compare the quality of industrial relations in the various Member States. It also proposes that the social partners should be assisted by Member States and by European financing in the introduction of policies associated with the Lisbon Strategy.

This Communication also proposes to set up a Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment, bringing together the troika of Heads of State or Government, the Commission President and a restricted delegation of social partners.

International co-operation

Countries committed to the EU enlargement process must structure and build the capacities of their organisations of social partners. In this respect, candidate countries may benefit from co-operation with European organisations and from European financing.

In addition, the processes of social dialogue must be encouraged in the context of EU foreign policy. The social partners of the EU and non-Member States may exchange experience and best practice, particularly concerning the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EU Partnership with Latin America, with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and with the United States and Japan.

Lastly, the European social partners can play a role as experts in the context of multilateral negotiations, particularly within international organisations.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 20 May 1998 adapting and promoting the social dialogue at Community level [COM(98) 322 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 18 September 1996 concerning the Development of the Social Dialogue at Community level [COM(96) 448 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 14 December 1993 concerning the application of the Agreement on social policy presented by the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament [COM(93) 600 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

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

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

The European Commission is working to encourage and develop the civil dialogue by promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations. This dialogue is intended to inform citizens about social policy development and in particular the implementation of measures designed to combat social exclusion and discrimination. In this Communication, the Commission explains the problems and challenges facing voluntary organisations and foundations with a view to encouraging their development at national and European levels, improving their ability to respond to future needs, and maximising their contribution to European integration.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 6 June 1997 on promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe.[COM(1997) 241 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Civil dialogue may be described as the reciprocal exchange of information between citizens at the grass roots and the European institutions, which facilitates the development of a social policy that is responsive to real needs, from the European level down to the local level, by promoting European citizenship and participation.

The beginnings of a more structured and consistent civil dialogue date back to the Maastricht Treaty, which enshrined Declaration 23 (annexed to the EU Treaty). This declaration stresses the importance of “cooperation between [the European institutions] … and charitable associations and foundations as institutions responsible for welfare establishments and services”.

The social economy consists of three sectors:

  • cooperatives,
  • mutual societies,
  • voluntary organisations.

Among these sectors, the voluntary organisations and foundations are becoming increasingly numerous. In addition, they play an essential role in almost all fields of social activity (sports activities, human rights, development policy, citizens’ interests, etc.). They play a part in creating jobs, in demonstrating active citizenship and in the exercise of democracy. Over time they have begun to contribute to European integration. This is why the Commission has mounted an extensive survey in order to learn more about the sector and to identify the problems to be addressed (the results of the survey are contained in Annex 1).

Over the years the voluntary sector and the European institutions have begun to cooperate more closely (the voluntary sector disseminates information to the public and shares its knowledge and experience with the institutions). There is a genuine political will for systematic consultation at European level, both in preparing and in implementing policies, ever since the adoption of Declaration 23.

However, the voluntary sector has had to address fresh problems and challenges linked to the extension of its role. Voluntary organisations trying to develop transnational European activities encounter a series of obstacles such as:

  • the difficulty in finding partners in other countries for joint projects;
  • the lack of funding at European level;
  • late payment of Community financial aid;
  • the unrepresentative nature of certain organisations;
  • lack of adequate training.

The Commission and the Member States are trying to remedy these problems on an ad hoc basis. The Commission considers it important to put in place a consistent policy and a strategy for this sector. It has put forward a certain number of ideas for examination by the voluntary sector, at both national and European level.

Member States:

In compliance with the subsidiarity principle, the Commission considers that the bulk of the activities must take place at national or even regional or local level, and proposes in particular:

  • learning more about the sector at all levels;
  • developing partnerships between the public authorities and the voluntary sector, while ensuring that they remain truly independent;
  • developing a clearer legal and tax framework for the voluntary organisations and foundations;
  • ensuring that the voluntary sector has adequate training opportunities.

Voluntary organisations and foundations:

The voluntary organisations and foundations should be more open and accessible so that citizens and the public authorities can familiarise themselves with their objectives and working methods.

They should also:

  • diversify their sources of funding;
  • encourage their personnel to seek training;
  • liase more closely with the public authorities and the business community.

Community level:

The dialogue between the voluntary organisations and institutions and Community bodies should be developed, in particular by the Consultative Committee for Cooperatives, Mutual Societies, Associations and Foundations, which aims to ensure the horizontal consultation and coordination of the sector, but also via the European Social Forum.

Parliament has also proposed creating an observatory to monitor the development of the sector in the single market.

Other actions could also be undertaken in order to:

  • improve access to European training programmes for members of voluntary organisations that wish to expand in Europe;
  • promote access to certain Community funds;
  • create a special fund in order to encourage transnational activities by the voluntary organisations.

The Commission is keen to mount a large-scale dialogue involving the sector, the European institutions, the Member States and other interested parties, in order to scrutinise the proposals set out in this Communication. It plans to organise a series of conferences and seminars to discuss this Communication and the questions it raises.

Related Acts

European Parliament Resolution on the Communication from the Commission on promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe [COM(97)0241 C4-0546/97].

 

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and 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

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – ‘A renewed commitment to social Europe: Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and Social Inclusion’ [COM(2008) 418 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is used by Member States to support the definition, implementation and evaluation of their social policies and to develop their mutual cooperation. A tool of governance based on common objectives and indicators, the method supplements the legislative and financial instruments of social policy. It is part of the implementation of the process of coordination of social policies, particularly in the context of the renewed Lisbon Strategy.

The single social OMC established in 2005 applies to the fields of:

  • the eradication of poverty and social exclusion;
  • guaranteeing adequate and sustainable pension systems;
  • providing accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care.

The OMC process is structured as three-year cycles, leading to national reports which are synthesised by the Commission and the Council in a joint report. The proper conduct of the process is reviewed periodically by the Social Protection Committee in partnership with representatives of civil society and the social partners.

REINFORCEMENT OF THE METHOD

The potential of the OMC can be exploited more fully in order to achieve the common objectives laid down in the field of social inclusion and social protection. The reinforcement of the method aims at consolidating the existing practices and developing new guidelines.

Political commitment and visibility

The OMC should progressively adopt the methodology of the renewed Lisbon Strategy, particularly for the adoption of the joint political objectives, and in interaction with the Commission’s recommendations in social matters.

Similarly, Member States should set quantitative targets in order to focus better on certain sectors of social policy (particularly child poverty, in-work poverty and poverty of older people). These quantified targets will be based on social indicators, which may be differentiated by country or group of countries. By using the Lisbon methodology, the OMC will be better able to evaluate the results of the reforms and to make them more visible.

Interaction with other Community policies

In accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda, all European policies should have a social impact, assessed by the Commission. In this perspective, the OMC’s horizontal coordination role should be reinforced. Similarly, the coordination between the Social Protection Committee and the other high-level committees involved in the development of European social and economic policies should be improved.

Analytical tools

The development of social policies should be more broadly based on scientific data and on indicators common to Member States; their use will make it possible to improve the achievement of the common objectives laid down under the OMC. The Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) will make it possible to develop the collection and analysis of statistical data and the defining of indicators in relation to the topics covered by the OMC.

Ownership by all relevant actors

The OMC’s peer review stage should promote mutual learning and knowledge transfer. The PROGRESS programme can serve as a tool for the transfer of expertise and experience in the context of Community projects or training connected with the process of the Social OMC.

The increased participation of all stakeholders, throughout the cycle, and in particular territorial authorities and civil society, is essential to fully achieve the targets set by the OMC.

Background

The OMC was launched at the Lisbon Council in March 2000 in order to identify and promote the most effective social policies. The period of 2003-2006 was devoted to preparing for the streamlining of the process. In 2008 the Commission proposed a reinforcement of the single Social OMC in accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda and the Council’s conclusions of March 2008 (pdf ) for improved integration of economic, social and employment policies.

The Social Agenda and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs will be revised in 2010.