Towards common principles of flexicurity
Flexicurity strategies aim to reduce unemployment rates and to improve the quality of jobs in the European Union (EU). These strategies are based on social policies combining employment flexibility and security. The Commission intends to promote and improve the introduction of these policies.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 June 2007, entitled ‘Towards Common Principles of Flexicurity: More and better jobs through flexibility and security’ [COM(2007) 359 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission presents a set of guidelines as a framework for the Member States’ flexicurity strategies.
The principles of flexicurity contribute to the modernisation of the European social models.
Concept of flexicurity
To be effective, labour market modernisation strategies must take into account the needs of employees and employers alike. The concept of flexicurity is therefore a global approach which favours:
- flexibility of employees, who must be able to adapt to labour market developments and achieve their professional transitions. Similarly, this approach must improve the flexibility of enterprises and work organisation in order to meet the needs of employers and to improve the balance between work and family life;
- security for employees, who must be able to progress in their professional careers, develop their skills and be supported by social security systems when they are not working.
Flexicurity strategies aim to reduce unemployment and poverty rates in the European Union (EU). In particular, they help to facilitate the integration of the most underprivileged groups on the labour market (such as the young, women, older workers and the long-term unemployed).
The national strategies are to be put in place on the basis of four mutually reinforcing principles:
- flexible and reliable work contracts, in accordance with labour laws, collective agreements and modern work organisation principles;
- the introduction of lifelong learning strategies, to support the continual adaptability of employees, particularly the most vulnerable in the labour market;
- effective active labour market policies (ALMP) to help employees find employment again after a period out of work;
- the modernisation of social security systems, to provide financial support which encourages employment and facilitates labour market mobility.
The social partners must participate actively in the introduction of flexicurity strategies to guarantee the proper application of these principles.
Common principles at European level
Member States adapt their flexicurity strategies according to the specific features of their labour market. However, the Commission recommends that they follow a set of principles:
- broadening the introduction of the Lisbon Strategy to improve employment and social cohesion within the EU;
- striking a balance between the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees, persons seeking employment and public authorities;
- adapting the principle of flexicurity to the circumstances of each Member State;
- supporting and protecting employees when they are not in work or during a period of transition, to integrate them into the labour market or to coach them towards stable work contracts;
- developing flexicurity within the enterprise as well as external flexicurity between enterprises, in order to support career development;
- promoting gender equality and equal opportunities for all;
- encouraging co-operation between the social partners, the authorities and other stakeholders;
- a fair distribution of the budgetary costs and the benefits of flexicurity policies, especially between businesses, individuals and public budgets, with particular attention to SMEs.
European financing can make a significant contribution to the financing of flexicurity strategies. The structural funds support in-house training, lifelong learning and the promotion of an enterprise culture in particular.