Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Inclusive labour markets


Labour markets are inclusive when everyone of working age can participate in paid work, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

Promoting inclusive labour markets means:

  • making it easier for people to join (or re-join) the workforce
  • removing disincentives to work
  • promoting quality jobs and preventing in-work poverty, focusing on:
  • helping people stay in work and advance in their careers

EU policy response

2008 – the EU’s active inclusion recommendation asked governments to develop:

  • a comprehensive strategy based on 3 social policy areas:
    • adequate income support
    • inclusive labour markets
    • access to quality services
  • specifically on inclusive labour markets, practical measures such as lifelong learning, in-work support, etc.

2013 – the EU's social investment package urges governments to speed up their implementation of the recommendation.

An accompanying internal paper highlighted 2 key problems:

  • in-work poverty
  • disincentives to work – linked to tax & benefits systems

This paper also gives detailed advice for governments on how to boost inclusion, stressing:

  • action to help both employers and workers
  • a personalised approach, based on jobseekers’ needs

The Commission also recommends making more use of the European Social Fund to help EU governments put effective strategies in place.

Related projects

  • Portraits of labour market exclusion – a joint World Bank and Commission project profiling unemployed and economically inactive people in 6 EU countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece)

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