Promoting a high level of employment has been one of the Community's objectives since the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force in May 1999 and added a Title VIII "Employment" to the Treaty establishing the European Community.
The Union's responsibilities with regard to employment are complementary to those of the Member States, the main aim being to create a European Employment Strategy (EES). The EES is intended as the main instrument to provide direction and coordinate the employment policy priorities supported by the Member States at European level.
Financial support for employment policy is provided through various instruments:
- the programme PROGRESS 2007-2013, the aim of which is to provide financial assistance for work towards the Union's employment and social affairs objectives;
- the priorities of the European Social Fund which are part of the EES objectives;
- the Mutual Learning Programme, launched at the beginning of 2005, as part of the incentive measures to promote employment. Its main objective is to enhance the transferability of the most effective policies within key areas of the EES.
At European level, the main structures in the field of employment are:
- the European Employment Observatory, an employment policy information system established in 1982 by the Commission in collaboration with the national authorities;
- the EURES network, which contributes to creating a European labour market accessible to all through the international, interregional and cross-border exchange of job vacancies and applications and the exchange of information on living conditions and gaining qualifications.