Strasbourg, 18 April 2012
Presentation of Commissioner Andor on "Employment Package: Towards a job-rich recovery"
Today, rising unemployment is what concerns citizens most. Joblessness has hit record levels and instead of improving, the situation is simply getting worse. That is why our proposals for an employment package: Towards a job-rich recovery are timely.
The employment package comes as many countries take on very painful reforms. Huge efforts have been made in several Member States, most recently in Italy, Spain, and Greece. President Barroso presented earlier specific proposals for jobs and growth in Greece.
But our proposals are also about the medium-term for the EU as a whole. They identify the most effective ways – against the background of today’s economic and social climate - for EU and Member State action to reach the Europe 2020 goals.
That is why the employment package lays down proposals for employment to really be a driver for growth. And the ideas we have set out today for Member States, as well as the EU actions presented, cover three main areas:
First, we have put the emphasis on the urgent need to focus policy efforts on the demand-side of job creation.
This means encouraging Member States to take steps that create the right conditions for job creation and labour demand.
This can be done by introducing hiring subsidies for newly created jobs; or making a budget-neutral tax shift from labour to environmental taxes; or supporting business start-ups and self-employment more.
The package also looks at the major structural challenges facing Europe: the move towards a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy, the demographic ageing of our societies and rapid technological change.
Here, we identify the green economy, information & communication technologies and health services as the three areas that can generate the most job opportunities.
For example, the green economy alone is expected to create over 20m jobs in the next ten years.
Very concretely, we are proposing detailed action plans to support and develop the employment potential of these areas.
Second, we have to make the European labour market much more dynamic.
We will only achieve this balance through employment policies that allow for quality jobs and transitions, meaning that people move to a new job or between jobs more easily. Establishing decent and sustainable wages that avoid low wage traps are also important. And the Commission will address the quality of jobs by launching a public consultation on a quality framework for traineeships.
I also believe that translating such policies into a reality on the ground will be much easier if there are efficient public employment services and effective partnerships and, above all, a strong social dialogue.
Labour market reforms have to go hand in hand with investment in people so investing in skills is also crucial in tackling existing skills shortages and mismatches in the labour market. This is why we are putting forward actions to forecast and monitor skills needs better.
To improve labour mobility within Europe we need to remove any remaining legal and practical obstacles to the free movement of workers, such as the portability of pensions.
We are also proposing to transform the current EURES tool so it matches jobs and job-seekers across borders, establishing a genuine EU employment service.
Third, the package sets out ways to reinforce the coordination and monitoring of employment policies at EU level:
In the next EU semester cycle, we want to see a greater employment dimension as Member States prepare their National Job Plans as part of their National reform Programmes. We will also have an annual scoreboard on how Member States are actually implementing their employment policy commitments.
The EU social partners need to be more involved in setting priorities and shaping employment policies. This is why we have also proposed the involvement of the national social partners in the monitoring of wage developments.
We also need to make an even stronger link between Member State's labour market reforms and investment through EU financial instruments - like the European Social Fund – which can support such reform.
Finally, On the 6-7 September next, I will host a high level employment conference to mobilise all partners to implement the measures announced today [Barroso, Van Rompuy, Schulz, Gurria et Pissarides will all take part]
Thank you for your attention