On 3rd July, the European Commission presented the Communication “Joint Engagement for Employment”. The Communication goes back to the last EU employment summit and is supposed to counteract the impact of the financial crisis on the labour markets. The Commission proposal in particular includes bringing forward payments of ESF funds, a new EU lending facility and the propagation of better framework conditions for companies. The Communication will now be submitted to the European Council on 18th and 19th June for adoption.
In the press conference, EU Commissioner for Employment, Vladimír Špidla, emphasised that the objective was not only to tackle the direct consequences of the crisis but also to find solutions for structural problems. In other words, the national European economies have to become more innovative, more productive, more economically friendly and better qualified in able to guarantee jobs also in future. The Commission Communication names “green” jobs as the most important growth segments of future EU jobs. In accordance with EU calculations, jobs in the renewable energy sector could double to 2.8 million by 2020.

Commission president José Manuel Barroso sees three main priorities in tackling unemployment: maintain existing jobs, creating new jobs as well as promoting mobility; improving competences and their adjustment to the demand in the labour market; creating easier access to employment. More specifically, the Commission proposes the payment of € 19 billion earmarked EU funds by the end of 2010. Normally, ESF funds are distributed over a period of nine to ten years. These ESF funds can be used to 100 % finance qualification measures, the promotion of entrepreneurship and the improvement of the public labour administration, i.e. without national co-financing. The Commission will introduce a fast track procedure for accepting ESF programmes so that the acceptance process can be dealt with in maximum one month. The ESF also makes € 1.2 billion available for social partners in the regions, which are lagging behind in development.

In addition, the Commission proposes a new micro financing tool to promote employment. By redistributing € 100 million from the current EU budget, 500 million are mobilised in cooperation with international financial institutions, in particular the EIB, to support founders of microenterprises during the current credit crunch. In combination with the entire Commission proposal, Member States are repeatedly called upon to create more company-friendly framework conditions such as the reduction of ancillary wage and recruitment costs, to reduce red tape as well as to introduce incentives for start-ups.

The measures proposed by the Commission in particular support companies; at the same time, workers are required to adjust to the change in market demand. That the motto “Joint Engagement for Employment” is so little convincing does therefore not only have its origin in the reluctance of many Member States to participate in the employment summit on 7th May, but in particular in the placing sole emphasis on the supply side of the labour market. The fact that national economies currently suffer from a lack in demand is not taken into account by the Commission proposal.

Further information:

Press release of the Commission

Communication of the Commission

Annex to the Commission Communication