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2009 “Employment in Europe” Report
European policies must create favourable conditions for employment and economic recovery. This role is now even more essential due to the effects of the international financial crisis. European policies must also contribute to establishing an economy based on the principles of sustainable development, particularly considering the number of jobs which could result from it.
The year 2009 has been marked by the international financial crisis, which hugely affected the labour markets, after many years of growth in employment in Europe.
Although European Union (EU) countries may have been affected in different ways, they have all experienced a decrease in job offers. The Commission observes that certain population groups are more affected by the job losses: lower-skilled young people, temporary workers and older workers.
Through the internal flexibility of companies (shorter working hours, temporary partial unemployment, etc.) and wage concessions by workers, certain countries were able to limit the job losses. However, in 2010, the unemployment rate was expected to reach 11% in the EU.
In this context, European policies have a particular role to play. They must help to preserve jobs, help people into employment and support the most vulnerable. In addition, the Lisbon Strategy cycle comes to an end in 2010, and the EU must also develop new policy priorities in order to prepare for the transition to a low-carbon “green” economy.
Analysis of labour markets
European labour markets are relatively dynamic, which indicates that job offers correspond to demand. In fact in all the EU countries, workers can change job (22% per year), return to work or leave unemployment with relative ease.
However, long-term unemployment persists for certain population groups; it continues for more than a year for 45% of people affected. The most vulnerable people are women, older and low-skilled workers. To tackle this type of unemployment, the Commission recommends recourse to appropriate employment policies, based on the principles of flexicurity.
Climate change and the development of labour markets
The EU must adopt policies aimed at developing a competitive low-carbon economy. This transition towards a green economy must have a positive impact on the labour market, specifically through:
- the construction of new infrastructures;
- the development of new technologies;
- direct employment in the renewable energy sector (production, installation and maintenance);
- the development of new service sectors.
Forecasts indicate that the sustainable development sector could create between 2.3 and 2.8 million jobs between now and 2020.
Initially, high-skilled workers will benefit from the jobs created. Education and training actions should then help to increase the general skills level in the labour markets.
The Commission also recommends the introduction of policies based on the principles of flexicurity, a respect for workers’ rights and an increase in social spending.
Finally, the Commission highlights the need to reinforce social dialogue and the assessment of labour markets.
- For further information, please visit the website of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs.