European Union

Employment and social affairs

Employment and social affairs

Responsibility for employment and social policy lies primarily with national governments. EU funding supports and complements their efforts.

To counteract the impact of demographic ageing, EU employment and social policy is designed to:

  • ease the transition from school to work
  • make it easier to find a job
  • modernise social security systems
  • make it easier for workers to move freely around the EU
  • alleviate poverty
  • protect people with disabilities

The EU also:

  • coordinates & monitors national policies
  • encourages member countries to share best practices on social inclusion, poverty & pensions
  • supports training, skills development & entrepreneurship
  • makes laws on workers’ rights, discrimination at work & coordination of social security schemes, and monitors their implementation.


The European Commission encourages EU national governments to:

  • create job opportunities
  • reduce labour market disparities
  • support economic competitiveness
  • monitor employment policies in EU countries.

Workers’ rights

There are now EU laws to limit working hours, tackle workplace discrimination, make working conditions safer and ensure employees receive compensation for work injuries.

Social security & inclusion

The EU promotes social security and inclusion by providing and coordinating funding to help member countries invest in people — in areas like childcare, healthcare, training, accessible infrastructure, help with finding a job – and to reform their social security systems.


Because the required skills and qualifications change over time, the EU has developed a set of initiatives to:

  • develop the skills needed
  • manage the availability of required skills to prevent gaps & mismatches
  • make it easier to have qualifications formally recognised abroad, to be able to live, study & work anywhere in Europe.

Living & working abroad

The EU and national governments are working together to coordinate social security schemes across the EU so that workers continue to receive their pensions and social security benefits when they change jobs and work in different EU countries. EURES — the network of European employment services – makes it easier for companies to recruit people from abroad and for people to work abroad.

EU funding programmes


Factsheet published in October 2016

This publication is part of the 'THE EU AND' series

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