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Employment and social affairs

Europe seeks to create more and better jobs needed by a dynamic, knowledge-based society. This requires investments in education, science and employment policies geared to keep up with the pace of change and see the EU through the economic crisis.

The EU and national governments share responsibility for policy in the fields of employment, social affairs and inclusion. The EU:

  • coordinates and monitors national policies
  • promotes the sharing of best practices in fields such as employment, poverty and social exclusion and pensions
  • makes laws and monitors their implementation in areas such as rights at work and coordination of social security schemes.

More and better jobs

In line with the Europe 2020 growth strategy, the European employment strategy encourages action to:

  • create jobs
  • energise and better balance the labour markets
  • monitor employment policies with the EU countries
Woman walking into a job centre - © EU

Young woman at Manpower Job search office in Athens

through the following initiatives:

Rights at work

The EU has made a real impact in the field of workers' rights. For example, there are now EU laws limiting working hours, making working conditions safer and ensuring compensation for work injuries.

The EU works with a wide range of partners, including employers and trade unions, to make sure that these laws effectively address the most important issues.

Social protection & inclusion

The EU promotes social protection & inclusion by coordinating, promoting and providing funding to support member countries' efforts to invest in people – in areas like education, childcare, healthcare, training, job-search assistance and rehabilitation, and reforming their systems.

Woman pouring soup into a bowl– © EU

Distributing food to the poor

Living and working abroad

The EU and its member countries are collaborating to make it easier for people to live and work abroad, by coordinating social security schemes across EU countries and enabling workers to receive their pensions and social security benefits even when they change jobs and work in different EU countries.

EU funding programmes

The main programmes for employment and social policy are:

National governments are primarily responsible for employment and social policy. EU funding in this field only aims to support and complement their efforts.


Employment and social affairs

Updated in November 2014

This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series


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