EU report on employment and social situation: what does it mean for EU policy?

20 Feb 2014

This week (18 February), Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs László Andor, Commission and national government representatives, social partners and civil society gathered to debate the recent report on Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2013. Discussions were focused on what the report means for EU policy and how the data could inform policies in the field of employment and social affairs, particularly in the context of the European Semester.

EU report on employment and social situation: what does it mean for EU policy?

This third report on Employment and Social Developments in Europe highlights some EU policy failings, in particular with regards to gender equality, an issue CESI has been addressing for some time within its Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee. The report shows how austerity measures have impacted on women more than men, with the transition from unemployment to employment being more of a challenge for women.

These trends are particularly marked in the public sector. The report notes, “Given that the public sector employs a high proportion of women, any wage freezes, wage cuts, staffing freezes or personnel cuts are highly likely to be disproportionally borne by women. Public sector changes are also important because gender equality policies are often implemented earlier and more strictly in this sector.”

The social partners contributing to the event focused on employment issues as the main concern, noting that the consequences of austerity are clear from the report and calling for a full and effective reevaluation of EU policies in this area. Business representatives highlighted the growth potential for jobs in the public sector, in particular in ICT, healthcare and green economy jobs. This requires sustainable and long-lasting investment in human capital and in a more innovative and modern public sector.

Civil society representatives focused on how the report must be used to correct current concerning trends in employment and social affairs, with poverty on the rise and the quality of jobs falling. Heather Roy, representing the Social Platform, said that the data in the report must guide the policies of the European Semester and be reflected in the work of the Troika and in Economic and Monetary Union.

Representatives from the Commission responded to some of the accusations directed towards its policies in recent years, noting that past reports have informed the Country Specific Recommendations (economic policy recommendations for individual Member States).

The report on Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2013 can be read in full here.