Social Policy Council : Ministers to Hold First Debate on Flexicurity

Article excerpt

Included on the agenda for the Council of EU Employment and Social Affairs Ministers on 1 June, flexicurity has of late become a European social policy priority. At this year's Spring European Council, EU leaders agreed on the need to outline a set of common principles on this subject (see Europolitics Social 172). The EU's Employment and Social Protection Committee's recently issued a joint opinion identifying fundamental problems and the 'key aspects' of flexicurity. The European Commission will now consider this opinion and then draw up a Communication (see other article in this edition).

COHERENCE AND DIVERSITY

The opinion of the Employment and Social Protection Committees, offered the Council three broad principles: coherence, diversity and the role of the social partners. It is important on the one hand 'not to reduce the debate on flexicurity to just one of its component parts'. It is necessary 'in a deliberate and synchronised fashion, to combine the existence of contractual provisions, active labour market policies, credible education and (vocational) training systems, and modern social security schemes'. Meanwhile, the existence of 'several options' must also be acknowledged. 'The flexicurity challenge cannot be addressed identically everywhere.' Finally, 'account must be taken of the role and participation of stakeholders and in particular the social partners'.

ADAPTING LEGISLATION

Contractual provisions should offer 'sufficient flexibility to both workers and employers'. 'The regular review and appropriate amendment where necessary of employment protection legislation' is therefore an 'important aspect' of flexicurity. However, 'in order to obtain balanced and sustainable results' it is also important to 'ensure adequate workers' rights, regardless of the nature of their contract'. …