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European Commission - Press release

Commission launches debate on corporate restructuring: what lessons from the crisis?

Strasbourg, 17 January 2012 – The European Commission has launched a Europe-wide public debate on corporate restructuring and anticipating change. The consultation will run until 30 March 2012. The aim is to identify successful practices and policies in the field of restructuring and adapting to change. The results will feed into the upcoming employment package and should help to improve further cooperation between workers and employers' representatives, government, local and regional authorities and the EU institutions. The consultation will also help identify specific restructuring measures that could help deal with employment and social challenges, and help European companies improve competitiveness through innovation and a fast, but smooth adaptation to change.

Restructuring is part of business life and one of the important ways of helping a company stay competitive. The economic and financial crisis has put an extra strain on business: from 2002 to 2010, over 11,000 cases of restructuring were recorded by the European Restructuring Monitor, with a ratio of almost two jobs lost for every one created (1.8:1). Between 2008/2010, this ratio has increased to 2.5:1. Many companies and their workers have developed innovative arrangements to limit job losses. Here, social partners have played a key role. These initiatives have varied from working hours, to more social dialogue, to adjustment measures or the intervention of public employment services. However, these may be less effective in a context of persistently weak demand.

László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion presented the new Green Paper saying: 'To be able to react better in the future, we have to understand the reasons behind the success of some measures in some countries, or sectors during the crisis. We have to look at how measures, like for example short-time work, can be used to deal with the challenges we are likely to face in the coming period". He added "We also want to see how we can best anticipate the employment and skills needs of the future, especially in the light of new challenges and growing social inequalities across Member States. And last, but not least, we want to see how the social impact of restructuring can be limited.'

The Commissioner also stressed how the EU stands ready to help and support Member States through the cohesion policy in particular the European Social Fund as well as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

Content of the Green Paper:

The Green Paper includes several questions. In particular, it addresses the following issues:

  • Lessons from the crisis – are existing policy measures and practices adequate? What are the success factors and future challenges? How have short time working schemes functioned during the crisis and how have they coped with a persistently weak demand?

  • Economic and industrial adjustment – what are the relevant framework conditions and existing good practices on access to finance, to accompany structural adjustment?

  • Adaptability of business and employability of workers – an anticipative approach best? Is there a possible need to update existing guidelines on restructuring and the means to ensure their implementation?

  • Creating synergies in the process of industrial change – how to improve the synergies between companies, local authorities and other local actors? How to develop training as a permanent feature of human resources management?

  • Role of regional and local authorities – how to encourage a supporting role of public authorities taking into account different national traditions?

  • Impact of restructuring operations - what can be done by companies and employees to minimise the employment and social impact of restructuring operations and what role can public policies play in facilitating these changes?

The Green Paper is supported by the staff working document "Restructuring in Europe 2011" Restructuring in Europe 2011, which draws on the main lessons learned in recent years on anticipation and management of change and restructuring.

The consultation period will run until 30 March 2012. During this period, anyone with an interest in the subject can submit their views via email or by post.

Background

Restructuring has been raised by the European Commission in its industrial policy flagship of October 2010, the flagship initiative 'An Agenda for new skills and jobs', as well as the Single Market Act. The Commission wishes to renew the debate on restructuring in the light of the lessons learned from recent experience.

The outcome of this consultation will feed into the upcoming employment package and the revived flexicurity agenda. It could lead to a renewed debate at EU level on a possible new framework for restructuring.

For more information:

Green Paper : restructuring and anticipation of change : what lessons from the economic crisis:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=7310&langId=en

Commission Staff Working Document: Restructuring in Europe 2011

http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=7311&langId=en

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=333&langId=en

Consultation on restructuring and anticipation of change

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=699&consultId=9&furtherConsult=yes

See also:

Key restructuring documents:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=782&langId=en

Contact :

Cristina Arigho (+32 2 298 53 99)


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