Europe needs to coordinate growth and job creation efforts, help those affected most by the crisis and address rising social inequality.
Five years into an economic crisis, the EU is again in recession – leaving around 26 million without work.
Household incomes have declined, and nearly 1 person out of 4 is impoverished or at risk. Countries in southern and eastern Europe have been hit particularly hard, according to the Commission’s report Employment & social developments in Europe 2012.
The report shows which of the measures to help those most affected by the crisis – including young adults, unemployed women and single mothers – are working. EU countries can use this information to help adjust their policies and develop common solutions.
What is the EU doing?
Workers have a better chance of finding a job in EU countries that have made substantial reforms to their labour markets and welfare systems.
Proposals include investing more efficiently in education and training, and supporting the creation of high-skilled jobs in growth sectors such as the green economy, information and communications technologies, and healthcare.
The report also shows most national welfare systems are stretched to their limits and governments are having difficulty addressing the increasing number of people falling into poverty.
The Commission plans to help by providing guidance later this year to each EU country on implementing sustainable and effective social support measures.
Eurozone economic split
The report confirms a huge difference in unemployment rates between the eurozone’s north and south – a 7.5 percentage point spread at the end of 2011.
This difference could strain eurozone economic coordination. The Commission is calling for eurozone countries to better coordinate their tax and employment policies. A Commission blueprint for deeper economic & monetary union sets out the steps to achieve these goals, including a common budget to temporarily help countries in need.
More work is also needed to end the eurozone’s debt crisis and increase investment in job creation, upgrading skills and social inclusion.