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Employment Policy in the EU

Latest news on employment policy in the European Union.

EU policies for restructuring and employment
Faced with a future of increased global competition, the European Union is putting effective policies in place to equip people to cope with change, promote enterprise in areas affected by economic change and to anticipate restructuring. Change does not always mean job losses, but painful restructuring is sometimes necessary. Unlike in other parts of the world, the EU promotes a strong social dialogue to manage change. Workers and regions affected by change also benefit from a wide range of EU measures to limit negative social consequences.

EU Job Days 2007
More than 200 European cities have signed up to participate this September in the European Job Days 2007, a series of events dedicated to promote workers mobility in Europe. Numerous initiatives from Finland to Portugal, from Ireland to Cyprus will raise awareness on the possibilities and practicalities of living and working in another European country.

Education: Communication on the quality of teacher education - FAQ
The European Commission on 6 August 2007 set out proposals to improve the quality of teacher training in the EU. High-quality teaching is a prerequisite for high-quality education and training, which are in turn a powerful determinant of Europe’s long-term competitiveness and capacity to create more jobs and growth. If adopted by Member States, the proposals agreed today will ensure that the EU has the highly-educated workforce it will need to face up to the pressures of the 21st century.

Safety and health at work - EU report
The central role of the ‘European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’ in promoting healthier, safer and more productive workplaces is underlined in its 2006 annual report, published 16 July 2007. It shines a spotlight on last year’s impact on young workers and small businesses and shows how the Agency continues to improve the quality of working life in an expanding European Union.

Bridging the Gender Pay Gap - EU guide
Across the EU economy, women continue to earn an average of 15% less than men, according to the European Commission. A new report released today sets out ways the EU can bridge the gap – which has barely changed over the past decade. The gender pay gap represents the difference between average hourly pay for women and men before tax across the economy as a whole. It reflects ongoing discrimination and inequality in the labour market which, in practice, mainly affects women.

EC Communication on VAT reduced rates – Frequently Asked Questions
The European Commission has launched a political debate on how to simplify current EU legislation on reduced VAT rates. In a Communication adopted on 5 July 2007, it considers that there is a real need for a simplification and rationalisation of the current VAT rates structure, in particular the reduced VAT rates. It believes that there is a place for more flexibility which would allow Member States to apply VAT reduced rates to local supplies. On the other hand, it says this flexibility needs to be balanced to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal Market and to avoid disproportionate compliance costs for business. To this extent, possible ways are put forward but no concrete proposal is made for new categories of products or services, given the need for prior political consideration by Member States. At the same time, the Commission proposes to extend, until the end 2010, most of the derogations which are about to come to an end.

50 years of the European Social Fund
On 28 June 2007, in Potsdam, Germany, a high-level event to mark the official 50th birthday of the European Social Fund (ESF) brought together EU Ministers and key players in the Fund. Organised by the German Presidency, the event reflected on how the ESF is helping millions of Europeans join and progress in the job market. The next generation of ESF programmes (2007-2013) will have a budget of EUR 77 billion for 27 Member States, providing funding in areas like training, ensuring better access to jobs, fighting discrimination and improving public services.

EU Race Equality Directive
The European Commission on 27 June sent formal requests to 14 EU Member States to fully implement EU rules banning discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin (2000/43/CE). The countries concerned – Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia – have two months to respond, failing which the Commission can take them to the European Court of Justice. The Race Equality Directive was agreed in 2000 with a deadline for implementation into national law by 2003.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)
The EGF aims to help workers made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns to find another job as quickly as possible. The fund was launched by the European Union in 2007 and will provide up to 500 million euro a year in support.

Flexicurity - the response to globalisation and demographics by combining flexibility and security
Flexicurity is a new way of looking at flexibility and security on the labour market.

Communication on the Posting of Workers in the framework of the provision of services
The European Commission on 13 June 2007 presented its assessment of national measures applied by Member States in the context of supervising the posting of workers, as well as the situation in terms of administrative cooperation. The aim is to remove unnecessary obstacles to the free provision of services within the internal market while continuing to ensure adequate protection for posted workers. This balanced approach is to be supported amongst others by a high level Committee of government experts, involving social partners, to facilitate the exchange of good practices. The Commission also proposes to reinforce administrative co-operation through the use of the Internal Market Information system (IMI). Furthermore, the Commission will launch, if necessary, infringement procedures to ensure conformity with Community law.

The EU and disability issues
The European Commission website for the Integration of People with Disabilities. The main responsibility for disability issues at the Commission lies with Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. This website has been developed to provide a short overview of the European Disability Strategy and to keep visitors updated on the latest developments in the area of disability policy at European level.

The EU and musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common work-related health problem in Europe, affecting millions of workers. Across the EU27, 25 per cent of workers complain of backache and 23 per cent report muscular pains. Lighten the load, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work's 2007 campaign to tackle MSDs in the workplace, supports an integrated management approach with three key elements. First, employers, employees and government need to work together to tackle MSDs. Secondly, any actions should address the ‘whole load on the body’, which covers all the stresses and strains being placed on the body, environmental factors such as cold working conditions, and the load being carried. Thirdly, employers need to manage the retention, rehabilitation and return to work of employees with MSDs.

EU Employment Week
The 14th edition of Employment Week, the leading employment and social-affairs event of the year, will take place on 5-6 June 2007 in Brussels. The two-day conference and exhibition offers a great opportunity for practitioners and European decision-makers to connect and discuss the latest policies and trends in European employment.

Better Training for Safer Food annual report 2006
Better Training for Safer Food is a European Union initiative aimed at organising EU training for national control authorities who are responsible for verifying compliance with food and feed law, animal health and welfare rules, and plant health rules. This report gives details of the background to the initiative and the work carried out in preparation for the launch of training activities in 2006.

Sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals
The European Commission on 16 May 2007 presented a proposal for an EU Directive to tackle the pull factor for illegal immigrants created by employers providing illegal work. The Directive on sanctions against such employers is part of a comprehensive European Migration policy which supports legal migration, fights illegal migration, builds cooperation with Third Countries and works with the development agenda. Two Communications on the external dimension of migration were also published on the same day.

EU coal industry
European Commission website, where the Commission outlines EU activities in the key areas of: Observing coal market activity; Ensuring research into new technologies, especially cleaner power from coal; Implementing coal-related legislation in the areas of State Aid and Environmental Conservation.

Driving time and rest periods - Regulation (EC) 561/2006
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 (Text with EEA relevance) - Declaration

New EU rules tell truck drivers to work less, take more breaks
New EU-wide regulations have come into force restricting the working week for lorry and coach drivers and requiring longer rest stops.

2007 report on equality between women and men
2006 saw two major events with a bearing on gender equality in the EU: the adoption by the Commission of the Roadmap for equality between women and men for the period 2006-2010, and the adoption by the European Council of the Pact for Gender Equality. These two key initiatives testify to the EU's continued commitment to achieving genuine equality between women and men.

Social Protection and Social Inclusion
A key feature of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is the joint analysis and assessment by the European Commission and the Council of the National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion submitted by the Member States. The Joint Reports assess progress made in the implementation of the OMC, set key priorities and identify good practice and innovative approaches of common interest to the Member States.

Smoke-free options - Green Paper
Green Paper - Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level

2006 Annual Progress Report on Growth and Jobs
European Commission Annual Progress Report and EU Member States' National Reform Programs and Implementation Reports for 2006

European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF)
The European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) is a new instrument which will provide personalised support to workers who have been made redundant as a result of trade liberalisation, so that they can either remain in employment or find quickly a new job.

Innovation at Work: The European Human Capital Index
In a landmark study, the Lisbon Council weighs into the current debate surrounding innovation by looking at the way Human Capital is developing in 13 European countries. The study predicts major challenges for key European countries – such as Germany and Italy – that do too little to invest in and develop their human capital. If current trends are not reversed, the study says citizens of Sweden and Ireland (which invest heavily in their human capital) could enjoy a living standard up to twice as high as citizens of Germany and Italy – a trend which would turn the traditional economic hierarchy of Europe on its head.