Magazine article European Social Policy

Epsco Council : Ministers Reinforce Social Agenda, Ratify Employment Guidelines

Magazine article European Social Policy

Epsco Council : Ministers Reinforce Social Agenda, Ratify Employment Guidelines

Article excerpt

In spite of reservations expressed by the UK, the EU's employment and social affairs ministers ratified four guidelines for employment, on 21 October in Luxembourg, which aim to create a framework for member states' reforms at both national and EU levels.

While this Council decision may not come as a surprise, it nevertheless represents a big step forward for the EU's social agenda - member states are due to present their national reform programmes, including their national targets aimed at achieving the Europe 2020' goals, by 12 November.

The adoption of these four employment guidelines will supplement the six broad guidelines for the member states' economic policies, endorsed by the Ecofin Council on 13 July. According to the latter document, the EU headline targets include the following: raise the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 to 75% by 2020; promote social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, by aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion; improve the quality of education and training and reduce the proportion of early school leavers to below 10%; and ensure that at least 40% of 30-34-olds have a degree or diploma.

The four employment guidelines, as modified by the European Parliament, are as follows: Guideline 7 aims to increase the participation of both men and women in the job market, decrease structural unemployment and promote the quality of employment; Guideline 8 aims to develop a skilled labour force and to promote lifelong education and training; Guideline 9 seeks to promote the quality of education and training systems in place; while Guideline 10 encourages member states to promote social inclusion and fight poverty.

"The European Commission is pleased with the adoption of these employment guidelines, which stress the necessary structural reforms that the European Union must implement," Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner Laszlo Andor said. …

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