Social Policy : Commissioner Pidla's Sermon on Labour Law

Article excerpt

Prior to the tripartite social summit that was held in Lahti on 20 October, Vladimir pidla, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, addressed a conference entitled Boosting Productivity and Creating Better Jobs', organised by the Finnish EU Presidency. The commissioner set out his view of the issues at stake in the debate between social partners and member states on flexicurity,' job quality and the modernisation of labour law.

In November, the European Commission is expected to adopt a communication on the labour market and a green paper on "the right to work" aimed at "stimulating the debate". The green paper was already the subject of much discussion when determining its outline and was withdrawn from the College agenda at thebeginning of October.

After the 2007 Spring Council, under the German EU Presidency, the Commission will also present a draft communication on the concept of flexicurity'. The aim is to have defined a set of principles on flexicurity' by the end of 2007 under the PortugueseEU Presidency.

ANTICIPATING CHANGE

"We all know that we cannot compete with the emerging economies on labour costs. Our main advantage, it cannot be said often enough, is our human capital with its know-how, flexibility and creativity," stressed Vladimir pidla.

"Companies and workers must adapt in order to anticipate, manage and direct change and must be given a framework in which they can exercise and develop these capacities. The qualities of all individuals must be put to best use, enabling them to develop and increase their potential."

The average productivity per worker in the EU is well below that in the United States. "This trend must be reversed. There are some signs that this might happen, mainly thanks to the sharp rise in productivity in the new member states".

"We also need better-quality jobs. Too many jobs are of low quality. Job quality is a complex notion, which subsumes pay and social advantages, relations between employers and workers, working conditions, access to training, career prospects, social security cover, health and safety standards, gender equality and non-discrimination. Enhancing the quality of work and, in particular, overcoming job insecurity is a natural complement to job creation and a condition for permanent employment and increased productivity."

THREE GUIDELINES

The draft communication on the labour market provides three main political strands:

- the first is to maximise the potential of mobility by tackling the obstacles to it, mainly through portable pensions, posting of workers and developing EURES, the European job mobility portal;

- the second comprises developing an active flexicurity' model at European level to promote the necessary market flexibility while increasing security, so as to enable workers to change jobs and careers, primarily by means oflifelong learning;

- the third comprises helping workers to cope with change. …