Procedure : 2018/2034(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0329/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0329/2018

Debates :

PV 22/10/2018 - 18
CRE 22/10/2018 - 18

Votes :

PV 25/10/2018 - 13.16

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0432

REPORT     
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16.10.2018
PE 623.744v02-00 A8-0329/2018

on the employment and social policies of the euro area

(2018/2034(INI))

Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

Rapporteur: Krzysztof Hetman

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the employment and social policies of the euro area

(2018/2034(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 3 and 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Commission white paper of 16 February 2012 entitled ‘An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions’ (COM(2012)0055),

–  having regard to Articles 9, 145, 148, 149, 152, 153, 174 and 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making(1),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and, in particular, to Title IV (Solidarity) thereof,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 13,

–  having regard to the Five Presidents’ Report of 22 June 2015 on ‘Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union’,

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 14 May 2018 on the economic policy of the euro area(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 7 December 2015 on the promotion of the social economy as a key driver of economic and social development in Europe,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 May 2018 on the 2018 European Semester - Country-specific recommendations (COM(2018)0400),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘Annual Growth Survey 2018’ (COM(2017)0690),

–  having regard to the draft Joint Employment Report from the Commission and the Council of 22 November 2017 accompanying the Commission communication of 22 November 2017 on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 (COM(2017)0674),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 22 November 2017 for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (COM(2017)0677), and to Parliament’s position thereon of 19 April 2018(3),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 22 November 2017 for a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area (COM(2017)0770),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘Alert Mechanism Report 2018’ (COM(2017)0771),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘2018 Draft Budgetary Plans: Overall Assessment’ (COM(2017)0800),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 entitled ‘Establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights’ (COM(2017)0250),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 entitled ‘An initiative to support work-life balance for working parents and carers’ (COM(2017)0252),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 26 April 2017 entitled ‘Taking stock of the 2013 Recommendation on “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”’ (SWD(2017)0258),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019, and to the European Pact for Gender Equality 2011-2020 and the Council conclusions of 7 March 2011 thereto(4),

–  having regard to the 2002 Barcelona childcare targets, namely to provide childcare by 2010 to at least 90 % of children between three years old and the mandatory school age and at least 33 % of children under three years of age,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2016 entitled ‘The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on’ (COM(2016)0646),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 September 2016 for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (COM(2016)0604),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 September 2016 entitled ‘Strengthening European Investments for jobs and growth: Towards a second phase of the European Fund for Strategic Investments and a new European External Investment Plan’ (COM(2016)0581),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 June 2016 entitled ‘A new skills agenda for Europe – Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness’ (COM(2016)0381),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2016 entitled ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’ (COM(2016)0356),

–  having regard to the Circular Economy Package(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘Europe investing again – Taking stock of the Investment Plan for Europe and next steps’ (COM(2016)0359),

  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2016 on launching a consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights (COM(2016)0127) and its annexes,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2018 on pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2018 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2018(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2017 on combating inequalities as a lever to boost job creation and growth(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2017 on the economic policies of the euro area(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on minimum income policies as a tool for fighting poverty(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2017 on a new skills agenda for Europe(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on Poverty: a gender perspective(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2015 on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020(14),

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2018 Pension Adequacy Report: Current and future income adequacy in old age in the EU,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2018 Ageing Report: Economic and Budgetary Projections for the EU Member States (2016-2070),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 2 February 2016 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a European Platform to enhance cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work(15),

–  having regard to the revised European Social Charter and the Turin Process, launched in 2014 with the aim of strengthening the treaty system of the European Social Charter within the Council of Europe and in its relationship with the law of the European Union(16),

–  having regard to the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the initial report of the European Union (September 2015),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors Special report No 5/2017 of March 2017 entitled: ‘Youth unemployment – have EU policies made a difference? An assessment of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0329/2018),

A.  whereas in June 2018 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the euro area was 8.3 %, which was down from 9.0 % in June 2017 and constituted the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since December 2008; whereas the difference in unemployment rates among the euro area Member States is significant, with the lowest unemployment rates in June 2018 recorded in Malta (3.9 %) and Germany (3.4 %), and the highest – and still a matter of concern – observed in Greece (20.2 % in April 2018) and Spain (15.2 %), whose employment rates were 57. 8% and 65.5 % respectively;

B.  whereas in June 2018 the youth unemployment rate in the euro area was 16.9 % compared with 18.9 % in June 2017; whereas, despite continually decreasing, this rate remains unacceptably high, and more than twice the total unemployment average, with approximately 1 out of every 3 young people unemployed in some countries; whereas the primary responsibility for tackling unemployment rests with the Member States in terms of developing and implementing labour market regulatory frameworks, education and training systems and active labour market policies in order to ensure, inter alia, the creation of decent job opportunities with decent wages;

C.  whereas the difference in youth unemployment rates among the euro area Member States is also significant, with the lowest youth unemployment rates in the euro area in June 2018 found in Malta (5.5 %) and Germany (6.2 %) and the highest in Greece (42.3 % in April 2018), Spain (34.1 %) and Italy (32.6 %);

D.  whereas other Member States are facing structural labour market challenges, such as low participation, and skills and qualifications mismatches; whereas there is a growing need for concrete measures for the integration or re-integration of the inactive workforce in order to meet labour market demands;

E.  whereas the total employment rate for the euro area in 2017 was 71.0 %, and the employment rate for women was 65.4 %; whereas the target for the European Union under the Europe 2020 Strategy is to achieve at least 75 % employment for persons aged 20-64, including through the greater involvement of women, older workers and the better integration of migrants in the workforce; whereas the euro area employment rate surpassed the pre-crisis high by the end of 2016 and grew by 1.5 % in the second quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of the previous year; whereas, however, it still falls short of levels recorded a decade ago in some Member States, bearing in mind that in Eastern countries this can be attributed to long-term decline in overall population rather than negative labour market developments; whereas the declining trend in hours worked per employee due, inter alia, to involuntary part-time work, remains a concern, with a slight decline (0.3%) in 2017 on the previous year and a level still approximately 3.0 % lower than in 2008(17);

F.  whereas labour market segmentation particularly affects women, low-skilled, young and older people, people with disabilities and people with a migrant background, who are also more likely to be employed in part-time and temporary work, which, in addition to non-standard and atypical forms of employment, and bogus self-employment, continues to persist; whereas the employment rate of 55-64 year-olds was 57 % in 2017 in the EU, 10 percentage points lower than the general employment rate, with a gender gap of 13 percentage points – 3 points higher than the corresponding figure for the total working-age population; whereas demographics are forecasting a growing number of older workers;

G.  whereas universal access to quality healthcare is a basic need that Member States must secure and invest in;

H.  whereas in 2016, the percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the euro area was 23.1 %, still higher than the 2009 figure, while the in-work poverty rate was 9.5 %; whereas 118 million European citizens are still at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 1 million more than the pre-crisis level; whereas the Europe 2020 target of reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion by 20 million relative to the 2008 benchmark is still far from being achieved; whereas while material deprivation rates are falling, monetary and at-risk of poverty rates are on the rise;

I.  whereas in the euro area the long-term unemployment rate is decreasing (from 5 % in 2016 to 4.4 % in 2017), but whereas it still accounts for 48.5 % of total unemployment, which is unacceptably high;

J.  whereas according to the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) 2018 annual review, the restrained pace of growth in productivity per person employed affecting wage growth is linked to factors such as the higher share of part-time jobs and the lower numbers of hours worked;

K.  whereas the part-time employment and temporary work rate in the euro area has remained stable since 2013, albeit accounting for a high proportion of total employment, with part-time work comprising 21.2 % of all contracts in 2017; whereas the share of part time work among women (31.4 %) is significantly higher than it is among men (8.2 %), a phenomenon which can have significant repercussions for income and social protection entitlements; whereas in 2016 young people far and away accounted for the highest share of temporary contracts – 43.8 % of all employees aged 15 to 24;

L.  whereas pension adequacy is still a challenge, as the risk of social exclusion increases with age, while the gender pension gap of 37 % still poses a challenge to many older women, increasing their risk of poverty and social exclusion; whereas the pension entitlements of people in non-standard and self-employment are lower than for employees;

M.  whereas access to social services, such as childcare, healthcare and long-term care services, as well as to affordable services that support mobility, have a significant impact on the adequacy of income, particularly for people with low incomes or those reliant on social protection;

1.  Notes that while the economic conditions in the euro area are currently favourable and overall employment is steadily growing, the economic recovery is not evenly distributed across the euro area, and there is still much room for improvement in terms of economic convergence, the fight against youth and long-term unemployment, gender imbalances, labour market segmentation and inequality, especially for vulnerable groups, and in terms of reducing the number of people working below their qualification level, poverty in general and in-work poverty in particular, eradicating child poverty, and fostering productivity and wage growth; notes that income inequality would have been much higher were it not for the redistributive effects of social transfers, which in 2015 reduced the share of people at risk of poverty by approximately one third (33.7 %); laments the fact, however, that its impact was insufficient and differed greatly across the Member States, reducing income inequality by more than 20 % in Belgium, Finland and Ireland, but by less than 10 % in Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia and Portugal;

2.  Emphasises that the enjoyment of social rights and a properly functioning and efficient social protection system which provides adequate protection for all workers, regardless of their type of employment relationship, contract or form of employment are, in addition to active and sustainable labour market policies, important preconditions for reducing poverty and social exclusion, particularly for the most vulnerable, ensuring inclusive national labour markets and strengthening the resilience and competitiveness of the euro area economy as a whole;

3.  Welcomes the increased financial support, via the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP), for Member States to pursue their reforms in creating quality jobs to boost employment, in reducing unemployment, with an emphasis on tackling long-term and youth unemployment, and in seeking to bring about wage increases; welcomes the Commission’s proposal to enlarge the scope of the SRSP to cover countries whose currency is not the euro, with the aim of fostering economic and social convergence throughout the EU;

4.  Takes note of the Commission’s 2018 country-specific recommendations (CSRs), which are an important part of the European Semester process, and welcomes the special attention they devote to social challenges; encourages the Commission to ensure coherence between social and economic CSRs and to respect the flexibility clause in the Stability and Growth Pact, as stated in the Council’s Commonly Agreed Position on Flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact; notes with concern that only 50 % of the CSRs for 2017 were either fully or partially implemented and encourages the Member States, therefore, to step up their efforts to implement the recommendations, particularly in the following areas:

  – poverty and social exclusion, including child and in-work poverty, especially among vulnerable groups,

  – youth and long-term unemployment in line with the Council recommendation on the integration of long-term unemployed into the labour market(18),

  – income inequalities,

  – wage growth,

  – combatting early school leaving and the high number of NEETs,

  – education, lifelong learning, vocational education and training (VET),

  – the sustainability and adequacy of pension systems,

  – healthcare, including long-term care,

  – secure and adaptable employment

  – gender balances, namely labour market participation, and the gender pay and pension gaps;

5.  Emphasises, therefore, that decent job creation, access to social protection, regardless of employment relationship or contract type, and wage growth have a significant impact on reducing inequalities, the risk of poverty and social exclusion, and will help to improve standards of living and support economic recovery; stresses that the Member States’ reforms, as advocated by the Commission through the CSRs, should therefore focus in particular on policies that increase productivity and sustainable growth potential, support the creation of quality employment and reduce inequality and poverty, especially child poverty; encourages the creation of open-ended forms of employment, while ensuring adaptability, promoting an inclusive labour market and ensuring a fair work-life balance;

6.  Welcomes the Commission communication of 13 March 2018 on monitoring the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) (COM(2018)0130), which aligns the Pillar with the European Semester cycle by reflecting the priorities of the EPSR in the analysis of measures taken and progress made at national level; emphasises that the EU’s social goals and commitments should be as equal a priority as its economic goals; calls on the Commission and the Member States to reinforce social rights by implementing the EPSR in such a way as to build a real social dimension for the EU (through legislation, policy-making mechanisms and financial instruments provided at the appropriate level);

7.  Notes that the labour markets of euro area countries differ significantly, which constitutes a challenge to their proper functioning; calls, therefore, albeit without prejudice to the principle of subsidiarity, for well-designed labour market policies and reforms that create quality employment, promote equal opportunities, the equal treatment of workers, and the social and solidarity economy, facilitate equal access to the labour market and social protection, facilitate labour mobility, reintegrate the unemployed and tackle inequalities and gender imbalances; calls on the Member States to develop social and economic policies in line with the principles of the Commission recommendation of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(19), specifically ensuring the provision of adequate income support, accessible labour markets and access to quality services, all of which are deemed fundamental to sustainable outcomes;

8.  Underlines the need to increase employment rates and promote decent job creation, particularly among the long-term unemployed, low-skilled, young and older workers, women, migrants, people with disabilities, minorities and marginalised communities such as the Roma, in order to achieve the Europe 2020 goal of an employment rate of at least 75 % and to mitigate the risk of poverty, especially child and in-work poverty, and the social exclusion these people face; underlines the need to reduce the number of people experiencing poverty in order to achieve the Europe 2020 goal of reducing poverty by 20 million people; underlines the need to reduce child poverty via the implementation of an EU-wide Child Guarantee;

9.  Calls on the Member States to develop actions and strategies in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights to address the social needs of those for whom the labour market is inaccessible, namely those facing extreme deprivation, such as the homeless, children and young people and those with chronic physical and mental health conditions;

10.  Calls for national strategies and EU-level coordination to fight ageism in labour markets as a response to an increasing number of older workers in the EU workforce, including by raising awareness of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(20), by aligning occupational health and safety regulations around the goals of sustainable employment and in the light of new and emerging occupational risks, and by securing access to life-long learning opportunities and improving policies supporting the reconciliation of work and family life;

11.  Calls on the euro area Member States to take full advantage of the positive economic outlook and pursue labour market reforms that focus on the creation of jobs fostering predictable, secure and open-ended forms of employment, legally certain labour contracts that outline the terms and conditions of employment, by preventing and combating bogus self-employment and by ensuring adequate social protection, regardless of the employment relationship or the type of contract; calls on the Member States to adopt and implement the proposed Council recommendation on access to social protection and to encourage people in non-standard employment to enrol in social protection schemes; stresses the importance of the ongoing negotiations on the directive on predictable and transparent working conditions;

12.  Calls on the Member States to invest in care services throughout the life cycle, to continue to pursue the attainment of the 2002 Barcelona childcare targets and to develop care targets for the elderly and dependent persons; believes that the provision of care services within the family should not adversely impact social or pension benefits; calls on the Member States, in this context, to ensure that the accumulation of pension rights is sufficient;

13.  Calls on the euro area Member States to reduce gender pension gaps and to ensure intergenerational equity through decent and sufficient retirement benefits, in order to eradicate poverty and social exclusion in old age and, in tandem, to ensure the long-term sustainability and adequacy of pension systems, to promote higher employment rates for decent jobs which provide greater pension contributions and do not overburden the younger generation; notes with concern that in most euro area Member States both the gender pension gap and the rate of early retirement remain high; points out that the sustainability of pension systems can be enhanced by reducing unemployment, tackling undeclared work effectively, and integrating migrants and refugees into the labour market, among other initiatives; welcomes the recommendation advanced by the Commission in the 2018 Pension Adequacy Report on the need for a holistic reflection on the adequacy of old-age incomes and the financial sustainability of pension systems; calls for more analysis to be undertaken on the situation of the ‘oldest old’, whose pension entitlements may have decreased over time as a result of inflation;

14.  Believes that Member States’ reforms of their social protection systems must be designed to facilitate labour market participation for those who can work by making work pay; stresses, in this regard, that income support should target those most in need;

15.  Notes that the job vacancy rate in the euro area was 2.1 % in the first quarter of 2018, up from 1.9 % in 2017; emphasises that adequate skills can be acquired and the skills mismatch tackled by improving the quality, availability, affordability and accessibility of education and training, including targeted quality training, by improving the mutual recognition of qualifications, by reinforcing upskilling and reskilling measures, with particular attention to basic skills, and by providing non-formal adult education opportunities, which require appropriate support, including EU funding, without prejudice to Article 149 TFEU, and funding at national and regional levels; calls, in this regard, for targeted measures to support vulnerable groups, including Roma, people with disabilities, early school leavers, the long-term unemployed, and migrants and refugees; asserts the need to increase the relevance of vocational training to the labour market and to take steps to enhance its attractiveness vis-à-vis academic pathways; supports the continued implementation and monitoring of the Upskilling Pathways initiative to help people acquire fundamental skills for the 21st century; calls on the Member States to prioritise comprehensive training in digital and entrepreneurial skills and to take into account the shift towards the digital economy in the context of upskilling and retraining;

16.  Expresses concern at the fact that in the EU19, the average rate of general government expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP fell year-on-year from 2009 to 2016(21); stresses that well-resourced public education systems are vital for equality and social inclusion;

17.  Notes with great concern the persistently high number of European citizens with poor literacy skills or literacy difficulties, including functional and media illiteracy, which gives rise to serious concerns in terms of meaningful and effective participation in public life and the labour market;

18.  Encourages the promotion of dual education systems and other similar policies; stresses that an effective link between education, research, innovation and the labour market can make a decisive contribution to job creation;

19.  Stresses that a safe and appropriate learning environment is vital for the well-being of students and teaching staff;

20.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to develop specific measures within employment, educational and social policies to ensure the effective inclusion of people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds;

21.  Points out the need to plan and promote organised and up-to-date vocational guidance programmes in schools, particularly in the countryside and in border, mountainous and island regions;

22.  Supports the mobility of students, workers, athletes and artists in the EU and the euro area; is concerned, however, that substantial differences in living and working standards in the euro area trigger involuntary migration, further exacerbating the effects of the so-called brain drain; points out that a key prerequisite for tackling the phenomenon of the brain drain is the creation of decent jobs, as is the promotion of effective education, training and career guidance strategies; calls for future education and employment policies to effectively address this phenomenon, including by fully developing the European education area; stresses the need to develop a European student card to promote learning mobility and facilitate the mutual recognition of certificates, diplomas and professional qualifications, reducing administrative burdens and costs for students and for education and training institutes;

23.  Stresses that, according to the Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020) benchmarks, by the year 2020 fewer than 15 % of 15-year-olds should be under-skilled in reading, mathematics and science; welcomes the inclusion of the ‘underachievement in education’ benchmark for 15-year-olds (results for low achievement in mathematics from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey) in the new Social Scoreboard;

24.  Recalls that, according to the ET 2020 benchmarks, by the year 2020, at least 95 % of children (from the age of four to compulsory school age) should participate in early childhood education; stresses that the area of ‘early childhood care’ in the Social Scoreboard includes only one indicator, for children aged under three in formal care; highlights that it lacks information on the coverage of older children below compulsory school age, as well as information about the extent of childcare provision as measured by the number of hours provided;

25.  Takes into account the positive role of open education and open universities in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills, particularly online training programmes for employees, as this is a dynamic form of learning that meets current needs and the interests of participants;

26.  Reiterates its call for the Erasmus+ envelope to be at least tripled in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), with the aim of reaching many more young people, youth organisations and secondary school pupils and apprentices across Europe; calls for particular attention to be paid to people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to enable them to participate in the programme, as well as to people with disabilities, in line with the EU’s and the Member States’ obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);

27.  Recalls the strategic potential of the cultural and creative sector (CCS) as a generator of jobs and wealth in the EU; stresses that the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) constitute 11.2 % of all private enterprises and 7.5 % of all persons employed in the total EU economy, and generate 5.3 % of the total European gross value added (GVA); underlines the CCIs’ role in preserving and promoting European cultural and linguistic diversity and their contribution to economic growth, innovation and employment, especially youth employment;

28.  Highlights that adequate investment and planning in the field of education, particularly in digital skills and programming, is essential to secure the Union’s competitive position, the availability of a skilled workforce and the employability of the workforce;

29.  Calls on the Commission to provide incentives and technical assistance to young people to set up their businesses and to propose measures to promote entrepreneurship, including through school curricula in the Member States;

30.  Underlines the need to pursue reforms that prepare the labour market and its workforce for the digital transformation for people of all ages and backgrounds through a flexible, learner-centric approach, in particular by ensuring adequate provision for lifelong learning and digital skills training, which is central to a knowledge-based economy,; emphasises the importance of lifelong careers guidance in ensuring people’s participation in suitable, flexible and high-quality training and career paths; recalls, in this context, the limits of skills forecasting in view of the rapidly changing nature of the labour market and stresses the importance, in this regard, of transversal skills such as communication, problem-solving, creativity and the ability to learn, all of which boost people’s resilience and enhance their ability to adapt to change and acquire new skills throughout their lives; highlights the need to ensure that national social protection systems provide adequate protection for all employees, including in new forms of work and with new kinds of contracts as well as adequate coverage for those who cannot work or are unable to find work; calls on the Member States to develop labour market policies that support cross-sector mobility and the re-training of workers, which will become increasingly important as our labour markets adapt to the digital transformation of our economies; stresses the need, in that respect, to secure the involvement of both trade unions and employers’ organisations in order to ensure a fair transformation;

31.  Calls on the euro area Member States to undertake the necessary reforms and to increase social investment so as to ensure the accessibility, availability, affordability, quality and cost-effectiveness of their healthcare systems; calls for a renewed European target to significantly increase the number of healthy life years by making prevention a priority of EU health policies, in addition to curative measures; calls for the active pursuit of health promotion campaigns;

32.  Calls for a European strategy for quality and accessibility of long-term care systems, by pursuing a rights- and community-based approach to long-term care and support; calls for significant investments in long-term care services in order to prepare for the greater needs anticipated in the light of demographic change; recognises that the long-term care sector offers inadequate working conditions and calls for care work and working conditions in care services to be re-evaluated so as to ensure the quality of long-term care;

33.  Points out the need for well-designed policies for a better work-life balance, including by providing affordable childcare, early childcare and long-term care, by rebalancing the gender care role between men and women, and by promoting adaptable working arrangements and the take-up of advantageous and paid maternity, paternity, parental and carers’ leave; considers, in this regard, that the adoption of a balanced directive on work-life balance for parents and carers is a necessary step towards improved work-life balance; calls, moreover, for a European initiative on social protection and services for informal carers;

34.  Underlines the importance of enhancing structured dialogue and the participation of employers’ organisations, trade unions and civil society organisations in contributing to the development and implementation of employment and social policies and reforms, and of their active engagement in the Semester process;

35.  Believes that in order to maintain and increase global competitiveness, the labour market regulatory frameworks of the Member States need to be clear, simple and flexible and uphold high labour standards;

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 179, 25.5.2018, p. 1–5

(3)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0181.

(4)

OJ C 155, 25.5.2011, p. 10.

(5)

Directives (EU) 2018/849, 2018/850, 2018/851 and 2018/852.

(6)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0325.

(7)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0078.

(8)

OJ C 356, 4.10.2018, p. 89.

(9)

OJ C 346, 27.9.2018, p. 200.

(10)

OJ C 346, 27.9.2018, p. 156.

(11)

OJ C 337, 20.9.2018, p. 135.

(12)

OJ C 242, 10.7.2018, p. 24.

(13)

OJ C 76, 28.2.2018, p. 93.

(14)

OJ C 366, 27.10.2017, p. 117.

(15)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0033.

(16)

https://www.coe.int/en/web/turin-european-social-charter/turin-process

(17)

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=738&langId=en&pubId=8030&furtherPubs=yes

(18)

OJ C 67, 20.2.2016, p. 1.

(19)

OJ L 307, 18.11.2018, p. 11.

(20)

OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.

(21)

Eurostat data.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

This year for the first time, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs prepared a separate report, and not as previously an opinion for Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, about the employment and social policies of the euro area. The rapporteur welcomes this development as he firmly believes the employment and social aspects constitute vital and immanent part of the overall economic policy and social cohesion and therefore require adequate attention. Jobs creation contribute to the economic development by supporting demand, reducing inequalities and improving the standard of living.

The European economy is growing and the positive outlook is visible in public finances, investment and employment. The GDP of the EU is already higher than before the crisis and the unemployment rate in euro area in January 2018 was 8.6%, which was the lowest rate recorded since the end of 2008. Thanks to the reforms already undertaken in the Member States and the contributions from the Investment Plan for Europe the investments started to recover. It is important to take full advantage of these advancements and, as president Juncker stressed in the State of the Union address, fix our roof over Europe as the sun is still shining. While the overall economic conditions in Europe are positive, the situation particularly to what regards the youth unemployment, labour market segmentation and inequalities, in-work poverty, productivity, wage growth, pensions, social protection and healthcare systems leaves the room for improvement. The Commission’s Communications on Country-Specific Recommendations (CSR) provide a good analysis of the needs of reforms and are an important part of the European Semester cycle. The rapporteur welcomes the fact that the European Pillar of Social Rights is from this year integrated into the Semester. However, at the same time the rapporteur is concerned by the insufficient level of implementation of CSRs by Member States, as according to the Commission’s data since the beginning of the European Semester only 9% of the recommendations were implemented fully and as much as 30% of the recommendations were implemented in a limited way or not implemented at all. What is even more worrying is that this situation has a negative tendency as in 2017 only 1% of recommendations were implemented fully and as much as 50% of recommendations were implemented with limited or no progress. This situation constitutes a serious obstacle to the EU’s reforms progress and needs to be urgently addressed.

The rapporteur wishes to underline the fact that the simple decrease in unemployment rates is insufficient. Europe needs to create truly inclusive labour markets which provide a quality employment for all, including the disadvantaged groups such as women, young people, and persons with disabilities and with migrant background. The Member States reforms need to promote reliable labour contracts, tackle bogus self-employment and promote adequate social protection for all types of contracts. They should also allow for easy entry and re-entry to the labour market by promoting labour mobility, providing reintegration measures and proper training for unemployed and promoting equal opportunities. The challenges imposed by fast changing working patterns and digital transformation should also be addressed. Employees need to be equipped with adequate skills and therefore the opportunities for life-long learning and upskilling and reskilling opportunities must be created. The rapporteur perceives also a need for a better work-life balance policies which would allow for flexible working arrangements, advantageous family leave take up and for enhanced investment in affordable, quality childcare.


OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education (12.7.2018)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on employment and social policies of the euro area

(2018/2034(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Nikolaos Chountis

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Culture and Education calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes with concern the persistent socio-economic disparities in the euro area; believes that equal access to inclusive and quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for everyone is a precondition for socio-economic convergence; points, in this regard, to the persistent disparities across Member States and social groups with respect to the EU’s headline education indicators;

2.  Is deeply concerned that, in the EU19, the average rate of general government expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP fell year-on-year from 2009 to 2016(1); regrets that the education and training sector has been severely hit by austerity policies and stresses that well-resourced public education systems are vital for equality and social inclusion; calls, therefore, for a shift in the euro area’s macroeconomic policy priorities towards increased public spending on education and training as investments with a strong multiplier effect; calls on the Commission to introduce an indicator on spending (particularly public spending) on education as a share of GDP (or per student) in the Social Scoreboard, in order to monitor the performance of the Member States;

3.  Stresses that social disadvantage is frequently a predictor of poor educational outcomes and vice versa; stresses, furthermore, that, in the constantly changing knowledge economies, employability, even among students with otherwise comparable hard skills, is often dependent to a non-negligible extent on ‘softer’ skills (communication, critical thinking, cooperation, creative innovation, confidence and ‘learning to learn’) beyond reading and mathematical and scientific literacy; insists that a properly funded, quality education and lifelong learning system, which genuinely promotes the right to study with flanking and supporting policies, including an effective system of scholarships, can help break this vicious circle and promote social inclusion and equal opportunities;

4.  Stresses that, in spite of the improvement of the economy in the euro area and the creation of new jobs, youth unemployment in some Member States remains unacceptably high and, while rates of youth unemployment have fallen since 2013, they differ widely between Member States;

5.  Notes with great concern the still high number of European citizens with poor literacy skills or difficulties with literacy, including functional and media illiteracy, which gives rise to serious concerns in terms of meaningful and effective participation in public life and on the labour market;

6.  Encourages the promotion of policies, such as the introduction of dual education systems; stresses that an effective link between education, research, innovation and the labour market can make a decisive contribution to job creation;

7.  Stresses that a safe and adequate learning environment is vital for the well-being of students and teaching staff; calls, in this regard, on Member States to make robust investments in the maintenance of public facilities, particularly schools, and in the elimination of architectural barriers;

8.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to develop specific measures within employment, educational and social policies to ensure the effective inclusion of people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds;

9.  Points out the need to plan and promote organised and up-to-date vocational guidance programmes in schools, particularly in the countryside and in border, mountainous and island regions;

10.  Supports the mobility of students, workers, athletes and artists in the EU and the euro area; is concerned, however, that substantial differences in living and working standards in the euro area trigger involuntary migration, further exacerbating the effects of the so-called brain drain; points out that a key prerequisite for tackling the phenomenon of the brain drain is the creation of decent jobs, as is the promotion of effective education, training and career guidance strategies; calls for future education and employment policies to effectively address this phenomenon, including by means of the full development of the European education area; stresses the need to develop a European student card to promote learning mobility and facilitate the mutual recognition of certificates, diplomas and professional qualifications, reducing administrative burdens and costs for students and for education and training institutes;

11.  Stresses that, according to the Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020) benchmarks, by the year 2020, fewer than 15 % of 15-year-olds should be under-skilled in reading, mathematics and science; welcomes the inclusion of the ‘underachievement in education’ benchmark for 15-year-olds (results for low achievement in mathematics from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey) in the new Social Scoreboard; invites, the Commission, however, also to include under-achievement in reading and/or scientific literacy;

12.  Recalls that, according to the ET 2020 benchmarks, by the year 2020, at least 95 % of children (from the age of four to compulsory school age) should participate in early childhood education; stresses that the area of ‘early childhood care’ in the Social Scoreboard includes only one indicator, for children aged under three in formal care; highlights that it lacks information on the coverage of older children below compulsory school age, as well as information about the extent of childcare provision as measured by the number of hours provided;

13.  Takes into account the positive role of open education and open universities in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills, particularly on-line training programmes for employees, as this is a dynamic form of learning that meets current needs and the interests of participants;

14.  Considers child poverty to be a major issue on which Europe should ‘act big’; calls for the swift implementation of a Child Guarantee in all Member States, so that every child now living at risk of poverty can have access to free healthcare, education and childcare, decent housing and proper nutrition; underlines the importance of pre-natal care and early childhood development; calls for inclusive education systems at all levels, including afterschool care; underlines that the implementation of the Child Guarantee will require adequate financing at national and European level; calls, therefore, for an increase in its financing, possibly via the European Social Fund and a new convergence instrument for the euro area; requests that national public investments in the Child Guarantee be considered within a ‘silver rule on social investment’ under the Stability and Growth Pact;

15.  Stresses that one of the objectives of the Youth Guarantee is to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education; calls, therefore, for full implementation of the Youth Guarantee, with an emphasis on quality offers and effective outreach to all NEETs(2); highlights that this requires adequate financing in the next multiannual financial framework (post‑2020 MFF), including an increase in the European Social Fund and an extension of the Youth Employment Initiative to at least EUR 21 billion; requests that national public investments in the Youth Guarantee and integration of the long-term unemployed be counted within a ‘silver rule on social investment’ under the Stability and Growth Pact;

16.  Supports a Skills Guarantee as a new right for everyone to acquire fundamental skills for the 21st century, including digital literacy; considers that the Skills Guarantee should involve an individualised assessment of learning needs, a quality learning offer as well as systematic validation of the skills and competences acquired, enabling their easy recognition on the labour market; underlines that the Skills Guarantee is an important social investment, requiring adequate financing at national and European level; calls, therefore, for an increase in the financing of the Skills Guarantee, possibly via an increased European Social Fund and a new convergence instrument for the euro area;

17.  Reiterates the European Parliament’s call for the Erasmus+ envelope to be at least tripled in the next MFF with the aim of reaching many more young people, youth organisations and secondary school pupils and apprentices across Europe; calls for particular attention to be paid to people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to enable them to participate in the programme, as well as to people with disabilities, in line with the EU’s and the Member States’ obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);

18.  Calls for a ‘silver rule’ on social investment to be applied when implementing the Stability and Growth Pact, namely to consider certain public social investments having a clear positive impact on economic growth (e.g. the Child Guarantee, the Youth Guarantee and the Skills Guarantee) as being eligible for favourable treatment when assessing government deficits and compliance with the 1/20 debt rule; highlights that fiscal consolidation should not undermine national co-financing of European funding for social investment;

19.  Calls for adequate financing under the next MFF in order to cope with increased needs; calls, in particular, for:

(a)  the strengthening of the Youth Employment Initiative, with at least EUR 3 billion per year in funding, available in a dedicated budget line;

(b)  a substantial increase of the financing envelope of the European Social Fund;

20.  Recalls the strategic potential of the cultural and creative sector (CCS) as a generator of jobs and wealth in the EU; stresses that the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) constitute 11.2 % of all private enterprises and 7.5 % of all persons employed in the total EU economy, and generate 5.3 % of the total European gross value added (GVA); underlines the CCIs’ role in preserving and promoting European cultural and linguistic diversity and their contribution to economic growth, innovation and employment, especially youth employment;

21.  Calls on the Commission to fully exploit potential synergies between EU policies, so as to effectively use the funding available under EU programmes – such as Horizon 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility, Erasmus+, Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), Creative Europe and COSME – and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to support more projects in the field of CCIs; notes that, particularly in the case of Creative Europe, Horizon 2020 and the Structural Funds (ERDF and ESF), the role and impact of CCIs on growth, employment and territorial cohesion should be specifically evaluated and further promoted; stresses that this process should provide a solid and coherent basis for the revision of the MFF and the future EU programme architecture post-2020;

22.  Calls for a genuine revision of EU and Member States’ education, training and skills policies in order to combat the phenomenon of early school leaving and the increasing number of NEETs and thus to deliver education and lifelong learning for inclusion; highlights that these policies towards young people, which should also target lifelong learning, should promote personal and societal development in a holistic manner and not be merely designed to meet labour market demands;

23.  Highlights that adequate investment and planning in the field of education, particularly in digital skills and programming, is essential to secure the Union’s competitive position, the availability of a skilled workforce and the employability of the workforce;

24.  Calls on the Commission to provide incentives and technical assistance to young people to set up their businesses and to propose measures to promote entrepreneurship also through school curricula in the Member States;

25.  Calls on the national authorities to encourage companies, also through tax relief or incentives for social contributions, to invest in training their employees and recruiting new graduates from secondary schools and universities;

26.  Takes the view that better matching of skills and jobs and improved mutual recognition of qualifications are necessary to address skills shortages and mismatches in the Union;

27.  Acknowledges and condemns the abusive employment conditions often experienced by professional athletes, such as bogus self-employment, the non-payment of wages, inadequate health insurance and retirement pension standards, and points to the need to improve the existing regulatory framework; calls on the Commission to present a comprehensive action plan for the promotion of decent working conditions for professional athletes, starting with the euro area countries and involving all relevant social partners in the sports sector.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

11.7.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

2

4

Members present for the final vote

Isabella Adinolfi, Dominique Bilde, Andrea Bocskor, Nikolaos Chountis, Silvia Costa, Damian Drăghici, Angel Dzhambazki, Jill Evans, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Petra Kammerevert, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Rupert Matthews, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Michaela Šojdrová, Helga Trüpel, Sabine Verheyen, Julie Ward, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Theodoros Zagorakis, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver

Substitutes present for the final vote

Elena Gentile, Sylvie Guillaume, Morten Løkkegaard, Liadh Ní Riada, Algirdas Saudargas

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Ivo Vajgl

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

22

+

EFDD

Isabella Adinolfi

GUE/NGL

Nikolaos Chountis, Liadh Ní Riada

PPE

Andrea Bocskor, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Algirdas Saudargas, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Theodoros Zagorakis, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver

S&D

Silvia Costa, Damian Drăghici, Elena Gentile, Sylvie Guillaume, Petra Kammerevert, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Julie Ward

Verts/ALE

Jill Evans, Helga Trüpel

2

-

ECR

Angel Dzhambazki, Rupert Matthews

4

0

ALDE

María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Morten Løkkegaard, Ivo Vajgl

ENF

Dominique Bilde

(1)

Eurostat data.

(2)

NEETs: Young people not in employment, education or training.


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

9.10.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

30

8

4

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Guillaume Balas, Brando Benifei, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Enrique Calvet Chambon, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Arne Gericke, Marian Harkin, Krzysztof Hetman, Czesław Hoc, Agnes Jongerius, Rina Ronja Kari, Jan Keller, Ádám Kósa, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Miapetra Kumpula‑Natri, Dietmar Köster, Kostadinka Kuneva, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Thomas Mann, Dominique Martin, Joëlle Mélin, Anthea McIntyre, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Georgi Pirinski, Dennis Radtke, Sofia Ribeiro, Claude Rolin, Siôn Simon, Romana Tomc, Yana Toom, Ulrike Trebesius, Lampros Fountoulis, Renate Weber

Substitutes present for the final vote

Amjad Bashir, Ivari Padar, Csaba Sógor, Tom Vandenkendelaere,

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

 


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

30

+

ALDE

Enrique Calvet Chambon, Marian Harkin, Yana Toom, Renate Weber

PPE

David Casa, Krzysztof Hetman, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Thomas Mann, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Dennis Radtke, Sofia Ribeiro, Claude Rolin, Csaba Sógor, Romana Tomc, Tom Vandenkendelaere

S&D

Guillaume Balas, Brando Benifei, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Ole Christensen, Agnes Jongerius, Javi López, Jan Keller, Miapetra Kumpula‑Natri, Dietmar Köster, Ivari Padar, Georgi Pirinski, Siôn Simon

VERTS/ALE

Jean Lambert

8

-

ECR

Amjad Bashir, Arne Gericke, Czesław Hoc, Anthea McIntyre, Ulrike Trebesius

ENF

Dominique Martin, Joëlle Mélin

NI

Lampros Fountoulis

4

0

EFDD

Laura Agea

GUE/NGL

Rina Ronja Kari, Kostadinka Kuneva

PPE

Ádám Kósa

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

Last updated: 16 October 2018Legal notice