Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 17/09/2015

Europe takes action to help 12 million long-term unemployed get back to work

The European Commission has proposed guidance today to Member States to better help long-term unemployed return to work.

Following the relaunch of the Youth Employment Initiative in May, this is another concrete initiative in the context of the broader economic and social agenda of the Juncker Commission, which seeks to strengthen job creation, economic recovery and social fairness in Europe.

The Commission's proposal

The proposal for a Council Recommendation foresees that all jobseekers, who have been out of work for more than 12 months, receive an individual assessment and that they receive a job integration agreement, offering them a concrete and personalised plan back to work, before reaching 18 months of unemployment.

The Commission's proposal looks into the services that are offered to long-term unemployed to help them to re-enter the labour market and proposes specific actions to strengthen them. It draws on best practices gathered by Member States.

The Commission's proposal will now be submitted to the Council for discussion and adoption. The implementation of the measures outlined in the Recommendation will start as soon as Member States reach an agreement.

Three steps towards re-entering the job market

The proposal puts forward three key steps:

  • Encourage the registration of long-term unemployed with an employment service;
  • Provide each registered long-term unemployed with an individual in-depth assessment to identify their needs and potential at the latest at 18 months of unemployment;
  • Offer a job integration agreement to all registered long-term unemployed at the latest at 18 months.

The job integration agreement should consist of a tailor-made plan to bring the long-term unemployed back to work. It can include, depending on the existing services in each Member State:

  • mentoring,
  • help with the job search,
  • further education and training,
  • support for housing, transport, child and care services or rehabilitation.

It should be delivered through a single point of contact to ensure the continuity and consistency of the support. It should also clearly outline the rights and responsibilities both of the unemployed and of the organisations providing support.

The proposal also calls for the active involvement of employers through partnerships with the public authorities, enhancing the range of services they can receive, as well as offering them targeted financial incentives.

Member States can implement these recommendations with the support of the European Social Fund.

Twitter chat

A Twitter chat with experts from DG EMPL will take place on Thursday 24 September from 11:00 to 12:00.

Follow @EU_Social and ask us about the EU action to tackle long term unemployment with the hashtag #EUChat!


In Europe there are more than 12 million people who have been unemployed for over a year. Despite the economic recovery and signs of improvements in the EU labour market, their number doubled between 2007 and 2014, accounting for about half of the total number of unemployed.

The Investment Plan for Europe has the potential to create millions of new jobs. But even when new jobs are created it is often very difficult for long-term unemployed to successfully re-enter the job market.

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