With EU unemployment hitting record levels and forecasts of a grim economic outlook for the months ahead, the Commission has come forward today with a set of concrete measures to boost jobs.
The proposal focuses on the demand-side of job creation, setting out ways for Member States to encourage hiring by reducing taxes on labour or supporting business start-ups more. It also identifies the areas with the biggest job potential for the future: the green economy, health services and ICT. The policy communication underlines the need for a stronger employment and social dimension to EU governance and lays down ways to involve employers' and workers' representatives more in setting EU priorities.
1. The employment package urges Member States to strengthen their national employment policies. In particular it includes proposals for Member States to:
Create the right conditions for job creation and labour demand such as hiring subsidies that create new jobs, a (budget neutral) tax shift from labour to environmental taxes, or support for self-employment.
Exploit the big job potential areas for the future such as the green economy where 20 million jobs could be created between now and 2020 and to include green employment into their’ National Job Plans, strengthening green skills intelligence.
Improve health workforce planning and forecasting to match the demand and supply of health professionals better while offering them long-term job prospects and stimulate exchange on innovative and effective recruitment and retention strategies for health workers. The Commission is also launching a consultation on employment opportunities in personal and household services.
Support an increase in highly qualified ICT labour and promote digital skills across the workforce.
2. The Communication also lays down key areas for reform so that labour markets become more dynamic and inclusive and therefore more resilient to economic change. These proposals include:
Drawing on the lessons learned from the crisis such as stimulating internal flexibility to reduce job insecurity and fiscal costs;
Establishing decent and sustainable wages and avoiding low-wage traps;
Ensuring appropriate contractual arrangements to prevent the excessive use of non standard ones. The Commission also stresses the need to deliver on opportunities for young people, as well as developing lifelong learning which is key to security in employment and to productivity.
With 4 million jobs still vacant across the EU, the "employment package" calls for higher investment in skills to address the skills mismatches in Europe’s labour markets, as well as better anticipation of skills needs. It puts forward specific instruments to improve the recognition of skills and qualifications and bring the worlds of education and work closer together.
3. The "employment package" also aims to create a genuine EU labour market:
To improve labour mobility, the Commission is fully committed to removing legal and practical obstacles to the free movement of workers such as improving the portability of pensions, the tax treatment of cross border workers or awareness of rights and obligations. It calls on Member States to allow for the export of unemployment benefits for jobseekers in another country (for a period of up to 6 months). It is also sending a strong message to governments to lift restrictions on labour market access to workers from Bulgaria and Romania and to allow nationals from other Member States access to jobs in the public service.
To improve the matching of jobs with job-seekers, the package proposes to transform the EURES job seeker portal into a true European placement and recruitment tool and foresees (as of 2013) innovative online self-service applications to provide users instantly with a clear geographical mapping of European job offers.
4. Finally, the employment package paves the way for reinforced coordination and monitoring of employment policies at EU level in line with EU economic governance. From 2013, and as part of the European Semester, the Commission plans to introduce a scoreboard to keep track of Member States’ progress in implementing their National Job Plans. To reinforce the involvement of EU and national social partners in employment policy making the Commission has put forward plans for EU-level exchanges of views and monitoring on wage developments. Finally, the package stresses the important link between policy and EU financial instruments (like the European Social Fund) in supporting countries' employment priorities and reforms.