The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, an autonomous EU body, was established by a Council Regulation in 1975 to assist the formulation of future policies. Through the Foundation’s research and information activities it provides the EU institutions, particularly the Commission and the European Parliament, as well as the Member States, with a scientific basis against which to develop medium- and long-term policies for the improvement of social, socio-economic, environmental and working conditions. The Foundation also serves as a forum for discussion on these issues, bringing together EU and government policy-makers, including politicians, representatives of the social partners, international organisations and NGOs, and not least researchers and other experts.
One of the main areas of the Foundation’s work is the socio-economic aspects of the environment and sustainable development policies. In 1993 the Foundation, with the Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, initiated a project on the employment potential of sustainable development policies. The main purpose at that time was to contribute to the discussion in the EU of how the move towards sustainability could be used as an instrument for furthering growth and job creation. The project’s first output was a working paper for discussion, entitled, ‘The Potential for Employment Opportunities from Pursuing Sustainable Development’ prepared by ECOTEC (see Medhurst, chapter 8). The Foundation’s work on employment and sustainability is expected to continue for another couple of years. At present the research is focusing on the micro level while market-based instruments are being discussed in a research group which may develop into a research network. Close co-operation between the Foundation, the Commission’s Directorate-General for