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A job-boosting plan
The Commission´s employment package
“The crisis isn’t over. There are no magical solutions. A medium-term and long-term agenda” to implement reforms, budgetary decisions and investment is needed “to boost job creation and employment”. The president of the EU Commission José Manuel Barroso, presented in Strasbourg a package of proposals to boost job creation. Support to job market reforms, coordinating national policies, introducing “minimum wages” reducing taxes on labour: all initiatives which must be backed up by all Member States.
Reviving the economy. From the seat of the European Parliament (in plenary session from 17 to 20 April) the head of the Executive reiterated the EU’s commitment for economic recovery. He stressed the importance of project bonds (some pilot projects will be launched before next summer), and reaffirmed the need for stronger firewalls against financial speculation. The Portuguese politician underlined that the EU has the potentials to address the current crisis, boost economic growth and “sustain the European social model”. This requires sound public finances and shared governance. Commenting on the employment package Barroso said: “Europe needs a job-creation strategy to tackle its unacceptable level of unemployment. The EU has a large untapped potential to boost job creation”. Member States “need to seize these opportunities, mobilise existing resources and stimulate their labour market in close cooperation with the social partners”. The Commission proposed various solutions, which include “supporting business start-ups more”, and identified the areas with the biggest job potential for the future: the green economy, health services and ICT.
Fixed targets. The Executive aims at reaching 75% employment target by 2020 (as lay down in the Europe 2020 strategy) and for this, the EU needs to create 17 m new job in the next 8 years. These are distant targets, albeit not impossible with a thriving economy. According to figures released a few days ago by Eurostat unemployment rate reached over 10%, amounting to almost 24 million citizens outside the working environment. The picture gets worse in the case of young people (under 25): one out of five has no professional perspectives and half of all youths in Spain and Greece are unemployed. László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said: “current levels of unemployment in the EU are dramatic and unacceptable. Job creation must become a real European priority”. He added: “If we are to restore growth and cope with major structural changes like the greening of the economy, an ageing population and technological change, the EU needs a dynamic and inclusive European labour market”.
Four main chapters. The package proposed by the Commission (with a high level employment conference scheduled for 6-7 September), will be discussed by EU Ministers during an informal meeting. It focuses on four major areas. The first calls upon Member States to step up national employment policies hiring subsidies that create new jobs, a (budget neutral) “tax shift from labour to environmental taxes, or support for self-employment”; to exploit the big job potential areas for the future and “improve health workforce planning and forecasting to match the demand and supply of health professionals”. The second point regards the dynamism of labour markets (stimulating internal flexibility, “establishing decent and sustainable wages and avoiding low-wage traps”, and ensuring appropriate contractual arrangements to prevent the excessive use of non standard ones. The third chapter regards the creation of a genuine EU labour market” with greater professional mobility. Finally, the employment package paves the way for reinforced coordination and monitoring of employment policies at EU level in line with EU economic governance. To this regard starting next year the EU Commission wishes to introduce “a scoreboard to follow Member States’ progress during the implementation of their national employment Plans”.