EU reform strategy delivering jobs, says new report
February 19, 2007 - Unemployment is down and employment on the rise according to the Joint Employment Report, to be adopted by employment ministers on 22 February. The Commission report - which assesses Member States’ implementation of their national reform programmes in the area of employment – is upbeat. However, it underlines the need for more rigorous reforms, in particular to better balance flexibility with security in the job market – the flexicurity approach. The Commission has also put forward specific national recommendations to most Member States.
“Labour market reforms are bearing fruit, but if Europe is to respond seriously and effectively to the challenges of globalisation and a rapidly shrinking working population, flexicurity must be the order of the day. Workers must be able to move easily and with confidence from one job to the next,” said Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. He added, “Today’s improved economic outlook gives us the opportunity to redouble our reform efforts.”
Alongside today’s report, the Employment and Social Affairs Council on 22 February is also expected to endorse country-specific recommendations on economic and employment policies. This is the first time ministers will adopt such integrated national recommendations. It represents an important step in delivering the EU's jobs and growth objectives as Member States will commit to address these recommendations. Crucially, the Commission is proposing measures on employment for most Member States, underlining that they need to push forward with reforms in the job market.
Unemployment in the EU fell from 9.1% in 2004 to 8.8% in 2005 and the employment rate rose by 0.8% in 2005 – the biggest increase since 2001. But a further 22 million new jobs must still be created to reach the EU's 2010 employment targets. While investment in education and skills is on the up, policies to improve adaptability – a priority in the European Employment Strategy - are seriously lagging behind.
Source: "EU reform strategy delivering jobs, says new report", Europa, February 19, 2007