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Joint Employment Report 2004/2005
Little progress has been achieved since the report 2003/2004 on employment and cohesion and social inclusion - this despite the resilience of employment to the economic slowdown and raising labour productivity in some relatively poorer Member States. The new report presents the result of applying the employment guidelines in the Member States and contains the employment recommendations of the Council of Ministers addressed to each of the Member States. It is part of the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy.
Communication from the Commission to the Council of 27 January 2005 - Draft Joint Employment Report 2004/2005 [COM(2005) 13 final -not published in the Official Journal].
This Joint Employment Report accompanies the Commission's 2005 Spring Report in view of the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy. It presents the progress achieved by the Member States in implementing the European employment guidelines and the recommendations of the Council of Ministers. It does not reflect an assessment of the overall policies or systems in the relevant areas.
The report draws conclusions from the 25 national action plans (NAP s) presented in autumn 2004. Via the NAPs, each Member State presents the progress it has made in the field of employment during the past 12 months and the measures it envisages for the next 12 months. The Commission's working document accompanying this report contains more detailed information on trends in employment and the implementation of national policies.
The report emphasises that the economic slowdown has not created major job losses. Labour productivity in some relatively poorer Member States has been favoured by catching up factors. However, little progress has been made as regards the three objectives of the European Employment Strategy (EES):
- The overall employment rate has stagnated at 63% (the target for 2005 is 67%, the target for 2010 is 70%), despite continuing increases for women and recently also for older workers. (40% in 2003, the target for 2010 is 50%); however, progress towards the female employment rate target of 60% has slowed;
- Labour productivity growth has fallen dramatically. The development of employment has been accompanied by a drop in growth and productivity. It is urgent to reverse this trend by capitalising on the links between the quality of employment and productivity, by tackling undeclared work and the gender pay gap (16% in average), and by improving access to information (mainly that of unskilled workers and workers employed by SMEs) and safety at work (the number of occupational accidents remains high);
- The economic slowdown has raised the profile of social inclusion problems and enlargement has increased the complexity and diversity of situations across the EU. It is a matter of improving the employment perspectives of young people, of less qualified and vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, immigrants and minorities with quality jobs and training.
The EU must boost employment and productivity growth simultaneously, but this will rely on further structural reforms not just in the single market as a whole (labour, services, products, capital). This report confirms the conclusions of the European Employment Task Force and stresses the crucial need to accelerate labour productivity and raise, in particular, the employment rate of older workers.
In addressing the Employment Guidelines and Recommendations, the strongest policy responses by the Member States are:
- the financial incentives element of making work pay
- reforming public employment services
- designing and reviewing lifelong learning strategies
- facilitating business creation and development
There are also significant responses as regards:
- ensuring employment-friendly wages and other labour costs
- promoting flexibility combined with security in the labour market, although risks of segmentation are still present
- promoting childcare and other care services to increase female participation
- strengthening active labour market policies, although the efforts seem insufficient with rising unemployment, especially of young people
- addressing the situation of disadvantaged people in the labour market.
Much weaker policy responses are:
- developing active ageing strategies
- improving the level, effectiveness and sharing of investment in human capital, including reducing early school-leaving and increasing participation in training of the low-skilled
- addressing the gender pay gap
- tackling undeclared work
- anticipating and managing economic restructuring
The Member States must share ownership of EU objectives and foster public conviction in the need to translate EU commitments into action at national and local level. They should support these commitments via appropriate funding.
The transparency and visibility of the national action plans (NAPs) should be enhanced in order to reinforce mutual learning in the Member States and at European level.
The European Employment Strategy (EES) plays the leading role in the implementation of the employment objectives of the Lisbon Strategy. This needs to be made more visible. The mid-term review provides an opportunity to raise its profile at all levels, to simplify the coordination process and to achieve greater focus on implementation.
For latest macro-economic updates, see European Commission "Economic Forecasts Autumn 2004" [PDF ]