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No 6 (January 97/Janvier 97/Januar 97)
The services sector offers the brightest prospect for tackling the scourge of unemployment in Europe. But our performance must improve still more. That is the conclusion of the Communication on Putting Services to Work recently adopted by the Commission on the initiative of Commission President Jacques Santer and Single Market Commissioner Mario Monti. The Communication was also presented to the Dublin European Council on 13-14 December.
"This Communication builds on the Confidence Pact for Employment", said President Santer. "It explores how best to ensure that the services sector can deliver its full employment potential." He went on to say: "To agree on a plan of action, the Commission will present a White Paper on services by May next year, as the basis for a wide-ranging debate at the European Council in Amsterdam next June."
Single Market Commissioner Mario Monti commented: "The Single Market has already begun to produce benefits in terms of employment. The studies recently conducted for the Commission demonstrate this. But much remains to be done. We will examine additional measures to break down barriers to the cross-border provision of services."
The Communication is in two parts. The first part analyses why services drive growth and employment. The second part puts forward in outline a European policy initiative to create jobs in the services sector. The main points made in the Communication are summarised below.
Services drive growth and employment
There is a long-term trend towards services. Increasingly, we live in a services economy. The services sector accounts for more jobs than industry and agriculture combined. Since the beginning of the 1980s services are the only sector which has contributed to growth in jobs in Europe. Overall, 18 million new jobs have been created in services over the past 15years. This compares with a reduction of some 13million jobs in industry and agriculture. But the services sector has made an even greater contribution to job growth in the US and Japan.
Welfare services have a crucial role to play. The demand for welfare services will continue to grow, given Europe's ageing population, the greater participation by women in the labour market, the growing need for life-long learning and the general desire to improve the quality of life. But public spending in Europe is increasingly constrained. If welfare services are to continue to be a source of new jobs while preserving European values of solidarity and equal opportunity, a new partnership between the public and the private sector needs to be established.
The services economy depends on a well-functioning labour market. Europe has been less successful than the US in creating jobs in the services sector. A new balance is needed between flexibility and security covering career development, innovation within the firm, the upgrading of skills and a greater adaptability, so as to improve the potential for mobility in the labour market.
Technological change is our ally. Technological change contributes positively to net employment in services, and the economy as a whole, in two principal ways. First, it has increased the importance of knowledge-based activities. Second, it generates new demand for services and provides new ways of meeting that demand. In particular, it has become easier to trade in services across borders.
SMEs are the engines of job growth. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engines of job growth in the services sector. They are the firms that are best able to adapt quickly to exploit the potential of technological change. Nine out of ten SMEs in services are micro-enterprises that employ less than ten people. But fewer SMEs in Europe make the transition to become fully developed quoted companies than in the US.
A dynamic European policy response
Unlocking the potential of the Single Market. Any European policy initiative to create jobs must inevitably be based on a Single Market that works. Up to 900,000 jobs have already been created in the EU economy as a direct result of the Single Market programme. The vast majority of them are in services. Yet more remains to be done. To improve our employment performance, restrictions that are incompatible with the Single Market must be removed. The Commission will identify as many as possible of the remaining restrictions. In those cases in which they cannot be justified, the Commission will ensure that there is full and vigorous application of the Treaty, in particular Articles 52 (on establishment) and 59 (on freedom to provide services).
Creating an efficient infrastructure. An efficient Single Market requires infrastructure that distribute services quickly and cheaply to all our citizens. Our energy costs are, on average, one third higher than those in the US. Telecommunications in Europe continue to burden our citizens and businesses with both relatively high costs and insufficient access to new services. Transport infrastructure costs beyond the control of individual companies are also significantly higher than in the US. The infrastructure that Europe needs depends on the liberalisation of our services, which will improve access, and the Trans-European Networks programme, which will increase capacity.
Making the Union the heartland of electronic commerce. Perhaps the greatest long-term challenge for the European Union is to exploit to the full the rapidly developing Information Society. Electronic commerce is one of the most promising applications of the new technology. The dramatic increase in the use of information technology can have a significant positive impact on the growth of employment. In competition with North America, the Pacific Rim and emerging markets, the Union must strive to become the heartland of electronic commerce. To meet the challenge, the Commission will launch a European Electronic Commerce Initiative to identify and remove barriers and stimulate the take-up of electronic commerce.
Valuing quality and professionalism. Providing a high quality service may be common sense. We must now make it common practice. Emphasis on quality assurance will boost consumer confidence. One practical initiative would be for individual sectors to establish "quality profiles" that will provide confirmation of a commitment to high-quality services for consumers. Others could include the early agreement of an electronic code of good conduct, and standard clauses for electronic contracts which would be advantageous for companies and consumers to use.
Life-long learning and training is vital. The development and renewal of human resources is essential to maximise the employment potential that services offer. Training will become even more important in the future. In ten years, 80% of the technology in use today will be obsolete. The gap between what technology can do and what people can do with technology needs to be closed through life-long learning. The Commission will present a further initiative on training.
Nurturing our entrepreneurs. Europe already has a strong entrepreneurial culture. But the burden of regulatory costs and administrative procedures imposed on SMEs is twenty times higher in relative terms than for large businesses. The Commission calls for vigorous action by Member States to remove excessive national regulations. The SLIM initiative will be pursued, and particular attention given to lightening the legislative burden on SMEs. Our objective must be to create an environment in which risk-taking is rewarded, and in which our entrepreneurs have access to risk capital in the EU on as favourable terms as are available in the US.
Reorienting Community funding on research. The promotion of new services does not require new public money at Community level. But the Commission and Member States must look more critically at how existing money is spent. Existing Community funding can also be reoriented to underpin the development of new services, as proposed for the Structural Funds.
Access to third country markets. Opening up our services markets to unlock Europe's potential goes hand in hand with the need for effective access to foreign markets. The Community needs a clear and united voice internationally. Future enlargement will significantly increase the size and potential of the Single Market. But that potential will only be fully exploited if the rules are correctly applied and if confidence exists among administrations that this is the case.
Building on the Confidence Pact, the Commission will introduce an Information Society Rolling Action Plan and will present shortly initiatives on creating an efficient European services sector with the best possible opportunities for job creation.
Der Dienstleistungssektor bietet die besten Aussichten, um die Arbeitslosigkeit in Europa zu bekämpfen. Wir müssen aber noch mehr erreichen. Dies ist das Fazit der Mitteilung "Mit Dienstleistungen Arbeitsplätze schaffen", die auf Initiative von Kommissionspräsident Jacques Santer und dem für den Binnenmarkt zuständigen Kommissionsmitglied Mario Monti von der Kommission angenommen wurde. Die Mitteilung, über die auf der Dubliner Tagung des Europäischen Rats am 13. und 14. Dezember beraten wurde, schlägt eine politische Initiative der EU zur Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen im Dienstleistungsbereich vor. Zur Bewältigung dieser Aufgabe wird die Kommission zwei neue Initiativen starten, und zwar zur Förderung des elektronischen Handels sowie zur verbesserten Ausbildung in den neuen Technologien.
C'est le secteur des services qui offre les meilleures perspectives dans la lutte contre le fléau du chômage en Europe. Mais nous devons améliorer encore nos performances. Telle est la conclusion de la communication intitulée "Services: mode d'emploi", qui vient d'être adoptée par la Commission à l'initiative de son président, M. Jacques Santer et du commissaire responsable du Marché unique, M. Mario Monti. Cette communication, qui a été examinée lors du Conseil européen de Dublin des 13 et 14 décembre, propose une initiative stratégique communautaire en faveur de la création d'emplois dans le secteur des services. Pour relever ce défi, la Commission lancera deux initiatives inédites qui consisteront à favoriser le développement du commerce électronique et à améliorer la formation aux nouvelles technologies.
Gerard de Graaf
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