Europe must modernise its labour markets and social protection systems, and harness the benefits of information and communications technologies (ICT) so as to seize the opportunities created by international competition, technological advances and changing population patterns while protecting the most vulnerable in society.
From 2007, the EU’s efforts will benefit from the European Social Fund and the new PROGRESS programme, which will provide financial support to the EU’s Social Policy Agenda. This single programme will cover anti-discrimination, gender equality, employment incentives, and the fight against social exclusion. With less red tape, simpler rules and more decentralisation to the Member States, it will be both easier to manage and better equipped to tackle the challenges of globalisation, Europe’s ageing population, and a bigger and more diverse Union.
Job creation also features in the European Commission's i2010 initiative – a European Information Society for Growth and Jobs – the digital economy component of the renewed Lisbon strategy. i2010 has three key pillars: creating an open and competitive single market for information society and media services; increasing EU investment in research and innovation in ICT; and promoting an inclusive information society in Europe. With ICT being a key driver towards improved economic competitiveness, ultimately i2010 will help create more and better jobs whilst also improving the quality of life for all Europe’s citizens. In this way, i2010 represents a substantial contribution to modernising Europe’s social model.