Alphabetical index

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Growth and jobs

Employment and social policy

The aim of the Lisbon Strategy, launched in 2000, was to make Europe "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". According to the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy, the results are, at best, mixed. The gap in terms of productivity and growth between Europe and its economic partners has continued to widen, and the ageing population represents a further challenge.

The European Council has therefore decided to relaunch the Lisbon Strategy through a partnership for growth and jobs. The objective of this partnership will remain firmly anchored in sustainable development. However, in order to achieve it, Europe needs to focus on a more restricted number of priorities. Indeed, the achievement of stronger, lasting growth and the creation of more and better jobs would unblock the resources needed to realise our more general economic, social and environmental ambitions.

    In order to boost growth and employment, Europe needs to become more attractive as a place in which to invest. Given the significant contribution made by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to creating jobs and growth, Europe must first combat the obstacles to the creation of SMEs and stimulate entrepreneurship. Furthermore, in spite of the progress achieved since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy, there is still not enough available risk capital to launch young businesses, and the current tax provisions discourage the retention of profits to build up equity.
    • Ensuring open and competitive markets inside and outside Europe
      Competition on the internal market stimulates productivity and innovation. European competition policy plays a key role in shaping competitive markets. It must be continued within an enlarged Europe and in certain markets which have not revealed all their potential. This involves the elimination of barriers to competition and the rechannelling of State aid into innovation, research and development, and risk capital. Outside the EU, commercial policy must ensure that European businesses have access to the markets of third countries and comply with the rules guaranteeing fair competition.
    • Improving European and national legislation
      Simplifying legislation helps business and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by eliminating unnecessary administrative formalities. The European Commission and the Member States have already launched initiatives to reduce administrative costs. This would benefit European businesses in terms of the productivity and competitiveness, and increase their ability to adapt, innovate and create jobs. It would also make it easier to set up new businesses.
    • Expanding and improving European infrastructure
      Investment in transport must respond to the economic, social and environmental needs of society. A modern infrastructure is an important factor in competitiveness when it comes to attracting businesses in that it facilitates exchanges and mobility. In addition, climate change highlights the need for more sustainable mobility. The aim of intermodality is to channel traffic into more environmentally-friendly means of transport which are safer and more energy-efficient. Alongside this, new technologies make for a more efficient transport system.
    Knowledge and innovation are essential for the growth of productivity. Productivity growth is a critical factor for Europe, because in the context of global competition it must contend with competitors benefiting from cheap labour and natural resources.
    Europe needs more and better jobs. Demographic change, which is exerting increased pressure in terms of employment needs, makes this an absolute necessity from an economic and social viewpoint.
    • Attracting more people to the labour market and modernising social protection systems
      The Member States are being called upon to set employment rates for 2008 and 2010 and adopt the measures to be implemented in their national reform programmes. The integrated guidelines for employment help them to select the most effective instruments. The challenge lies in attracting more people to the labour market and in keeping them there: particular attention is focused on the unemployed, young people and older workers. In this context, there is also a need to reform the pension and healthcare systems in order to ensure their viability and provide reliable social protection.
    • Increasing the adaptability of workers and businesses and the flexibility of the labour markets
      Rapidly changing economies need highly adaptable workers who must be capable of developing their skills to meet the needs of high-growth sectors. However, such flexibility must be accompanied by social security provision which also covers periods of change. Social security systems must be modernised in order to cope with these new challenges. In order to meet market needs more effectively, it is essential that obstacles to labour mobility be removed.
    • Investing more in human capital through better education and skills
      Education and training play an essential role in a knowledge-based economy in that they support growth and employment by providing highly qualified and adaptable labour. They also strengthen social cohesion and active citizenship. Access for everyone to education and training should be ensured through the European area of lifelong learning, which should become a world reference by 2010.
    • The EU Cohesion policy for 2007-2013 and the role of the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund
      The Community strategic guidelines lay down priorities for cohesion policy. These guidelines identify the fields in which cohesion policy can help to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy and of the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs. The programmes and national projects under the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund therefore target growth, employment, innovation and the knowledge-based economy, as well as the creation of physical infrastructure.

See also

  • Additional information on the European Commission Website: "Growth and jobs: working together for Europe's future".
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