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The renewed social agenda
The renewed social agenda completes the Lisbon Strategy for the period 2008-2010. It proposes an integrated approach with a view to responding to transformations in the employment market and European society.
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].
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).
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).
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.