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Communication on the future of the European Employment Strategy (2003)

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Presented by the Commission as a document for discussion with a view to revising the EES in 2003, the purpose of this Communication is to present an outline for the new employment strategy complemented by examples of existing concrete objectives and considerations and suggestions for possible new targets. It introduces a new generation of guidelines. A subsequent revision is envisaged in 2005 in the framework of revising the Lisbon Strategy.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 14 January 2003, on the future of the European Employment Strategy (EES) "A strategy for full employment and better jobs for all" [COM (2003) 6 final - not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

This communication supplements the five-year review of the European Employment Strategy (EES). Given that the EES constitutes a key component of the Lisbon agenda, the Commission stresses that it will contribute to responding to medium and longer term challenges which the European Union will have to face, notably via a new generation of employment guidelines.

The core of the Commission's recommendations consists in a simplification of the guidelines, the definition of quantified targets, better coordination of policies and mobilisation of the different players involved in implementing the EES.

Hence, the new guidelines should include three overall objectives:

  • full employment by raising the employment rate overall (67% in 2005 and 70% in 2010 on average for the EU), for women (respectively 57% and 60%) and for older workers (50% in 2010);
  • quality and productivity at work: closely correlated, quality includes in particular satisfaction with pay and working conditions, health and safety at the work place, the availability of flexible work organisation, working time arrangements and the balance between flexibility and security;
  • cohesion and an inclusive labour market for all persons wanting to work (23 million jobseekers in 2001; the employment rate of the 38 million disabled does not reach 40%).

In order to achieve these overall targets, the Commission proposes:

  • introducing or reinforcing active and preventive measures for the unemployed and the inactive by making the right offer to the right person at the right time, by early identification of the needs of each jobseeker and by a personalised action plan with a view to sustainable integration. Particular attention should be paid to youth unemployment and long-term unemployment;
  • making work pay by reviewing the tax/benefit systems with a view to eliminating unemployment and poverty traps, encouraging women to enter, remain in or reintegrate into the labour market and retaining older workers longer in employment;
  • fostering entrepreneurship to create more and better jobs notably by improving awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option mainly among the unemployed, women, young people and inactive persons, as well as by reducing barriers to the hiring of staff, especially in small firms;
  • transforming undeclared work into regular employment by increasing awareness as to the negative effects of undeclared work, simplifying procedures and legislation, lowering the tax burden on labour, effective surveillance and sanctions;
  • promoting active ageing to keep workers longer in employment notably by improving quality in work;
  • developing and reinforcing immigration policy with a view to the successful integration of migrants;
  • promoting adaptability in the labour market, via different contractual or working time arrangements, by encouraging access to training and by negotiations between the social partners;
  • promotion of investment in human capital and strategies for lifelong learning by re-directing public expenditure so as to increase efficiency in these areas, by raising the level of education and by closer involvement of companies in adult education;
  • promoting gender equality by conducting systematic gender impact assessment for new policy proposals, by increasing female participation in key areas such as higher education and research, by promoting structures which enable women to keep their jobs, such as childcare facilities;
  • supporting integration and combating discrimination in the labour market for people at a disadvantage, for example because of illness, ethnic origin, family situation, age, place of residence, etc.;
  • addressing regional employment disparities via a targeted policy focusing on the quality of human resources, investment in skills, education and lifelong learning and partnerships at local and regional level to promote job creation and address skill gaps.

Examples of indicators and quantified targets for the EES are provided in the annex to this Communication.

The operational services that play a particularly important role in implementing the objectives are the employment services, the social re-integration services, the training services and the labour inspectorates. Invited to present an annual report on their contributions at European, national, regional and local level, the social partners have also been closely involved in implementing the EES.

The Berlin European Council of 1999 established the European Social Fund (ESF) as a key financial instrument to support the EES, but it is necessary to take account of trends in regional and national labour markets when implementing the Structural Fund programmes.

RELATED ACTS

Council Resolution of 6 February 2003 on Social Inclusion - through social dialogue and partnership [Official Journal of C 39 of 18.02.2003].

Last updated: 03.03.2005
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