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Social Europe guide - Volume 1 - Employment Policy

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Edição: European Commission | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Manuscript completed in July 2011

In the wake of the largest economic crisis in the EU’s history, European citizens expect national leaders, and the EU as a whole, to do as much as possible to increase employment and set Europe back on to a path of broadly shared prosperity. Economic recovery across the EU is uneven, with some countries experiencing strong growth while others are still going through a recession, coupled with the need to consolidate public budgets. One key challenge for Europe in this context is to make sure that economic recovery is job-rich, i.e. an increase in economic output should be accompanied by an increase in employment. Another key challenge is to ensure that our socio-economic model remains inclusive, which means that people of any age, from any social group, anywhere in the EU can contribute to and benefit from the recovery.

The EU is dealing with these challenges head-on. The Europe 2020 strategy, which provides a basis for all EU and national policies, sets out a socio-economic model based on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, with a concrete commitment to achieve by 2020 an employment rate of 75%, a tertiary education completion rate of 40%, reduce school drop-outs below 10%, and lift at least 20 million people from the risk of poverty and social exclusion. This presents a strong policy framework for building an inclusive workforce and an inclusive society.

What is the EU doing to deliver these objectives and to achieve these targets in practice? This is precisely the question addressed by the bi-annual series of ‘guides to Social Europe’, the first volume of which you are reading. The series will explain various strands of EU policy and action in the fields of employment, social policy and inclusion, and how such action responds to specific challenges faced by Europeans.

The first volume focuses on employment policy. Chapter 1 briefly explains the short history of how EU employment policy has evolved and the role it currently plays in the process of European integration and economic governance. Chapter 2 deals with the problem of unemployment and expands on what the EU is doing to improve functioning of labour markets.

Chapter 3 explains EU action to build skills, improve labour market participation and support job creation. Chapter 4 summarises the main orientations for EU employment policy over the next few years. The guide also presents the views of Hungary as the country holding the Council Presidency in the first half of 2011, and of MEP Pervenche Berès, Chair of the Employmen and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

I hope you will find this guide useful both as an introduction and as a practical overview of EU employment policy.

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