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Procedure : 2007/2209(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0446/2007

Texts tabled :

A6-0446/2007

Debates :

PV 28/11/2007 - 15
CRE 28/11/2007 - 15

Votes :

PV 29/11/2007 - 7.30
CRE 29/11/2007 - 7.30
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0574

Texts adopted
DOC 98k
Thursday, 29 November 2007 - Brussels Final edition
Flexicurity
P6_TA(2007)0574A6-0446/2007

European Parliament resolution of 29 November 2007 on Common Principles of Flexicurity (2007/2209(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled, 'Towards Common Principles of Flexicurity: More and better jobs through flexibility and security' (COM(2007)0359) (Commission communication on flexicurity),

–   having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee's opinion entitled 'Flexicurity (internal flexibility dimension - collective bargaining and the role of social dialogue as instruments for regulating and reforming labour markets)'(1) ,

–   having regard to the European social partners' recommendations in the report entitled, 'Key Challenges Facing European Labour Markets: A Joint Analysis of European Social Partners', of 18 October 2007,

–   having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee's opinion entitled, 'The role of the social partners in reconciling working, family and private life'(2) ,

–   having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee's opinion entitled 'Employment of priority categories (Lisbon Strategy)'(3) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper on modernising labour law to meet the challenges of the 21st century (COM(2006)0708) and Parliament's resolution thereon of 11 July 2007(4) ,

–   having regard to the OECD's Employment Outlook 2006: Boosting Jobs and Incomes,

–   having regard to the ILO report entitled, 'Is a stable workforce good for the economy? - Insights into the tenure - productivity - employment relationship' of August 2004, which demonstrates a positive relationship between tenure and productivity,

–   having regard to ILO Convention C87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise (1948), ILO Convention C98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining (1949) and ILO Recommendation R198 concerning the employment relationship (2006),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(5) , which prohibits age discrimination in employment,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 September 2006 on a European Social Model for the future(6) , which reiterates the European Union's common values of equality, solidarity, non-discrimination and redistribution,

–   having regard to Articles 136 to 145 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Articles 15, 20 and 27 to 38 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular the rights to protection in the event of unjustified dismissal and fair and just working conditions,

–   having regard to the European Social Charter,

–   having regard to the report of the High Level Group on the future of social policy in an enlarged European Union, of May 2004,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled, 'Community Lisbon Programme: Technical implementation report 2006' (SEC(2006)1379) and to the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document on Progress Towards the Lisbon Objectives in Education and Training - Report based on indicators and benchmarks (SEC(2006)0639),

–   having regard to the European Charter for Small Enterprises,

–   having regard to the Commission communication on the Social Agenda (COM(2005)0033),

–   having regard to the national Lisbon reform programmes as presented by the Member States,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled, 'Global Europe: competing in the world'(COM(2006)0567),

–   having regard to the Commission's Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2005-2008) (COM(2005)0141),

–   having regard to the European Council Presidency conclusions of 23 and 24 March 2000, 23 and 24 March 2001, 22 and 23 March and 16 and 17 June 2005 and 23 and 24 March 2006,

–   having regard to Council Directive 1999/70/EC of 28 June 1999 concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded by ETUC, UNICE and CEEP(7) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations(8) ,

–   having regard to Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services(9) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2006 on the application of Directive 96/71/EC on the posting of workers(10) ,

–   having regard to the ILO Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975,

–   having regard to the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997,

–   having regard to the ILO's decent work agenda,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled, 'Promoting decent work for all: The EU contribution to the implementation of the decent work agenda in the world' (COM(2006)0249) and to Parliament's resolution of 23 May 2007 on promoting decent work for all(11) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 75/117/EEC of 10 February 1975 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women(12) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(13) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions(14) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding(15) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 94/33/EC of 22 June 1994 on the protection of young people at work(16) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees(17) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions(18) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC – Annex : Framework agreement on part-time work(19) ,

–   having regard to the report by the European Expert Group on Flexicurity, entitled 'Flexicurity Pathways: Turning hurdles into stepping stones', of June 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2007 on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership(20) ,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, of the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0446/2007),

A.   whereas the EU is not only an economic union but also a community of shared values as a consequence of which any reform of labour law and the labour market should reflect those values, and whereas the basic principles of labour law which have developed within Europe remain valid; whereasflexicurity should reflect the dialogue among all social partners and reflect a good balance between the interests of both employers and workers on the one hand and between flexibility and security on the other; whereas labour law provides legal certainty and protection for workers and employers by way of either legislation or collective agreement, or a combination of the two and whereas the success of any changes in labour law would be greater if workers feel more secure; whereas it is necessary to increase the level of security of both workers and enterprises, especially in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); whereas such security also depends on how easy it is to find a new job; whereas global competition and rapidly developing technology mean that enterprises have to adapt ever more quickly,

B.   whereas flexicurity, should therefore be seen as an important component of the European Social Model fostering competitive and adaptable businesses and workforces; whereas the term "flexicurity" arouses strong concerns among some European workers, who fear increased job insecurity; and whereas that term and the firm principles it covers, should therefore be defined as precisely as possible,

C.   whereas 16 % of Europeans remain at risk of poverty, and 10 % live in jobless households and that it is therefore essential that any reform under on the basis of flexicurity is based on a detailed impact assessment as regards vulnerable groups and that any such reform should aim at furthering social inclusion while not putting new groups at risk,

D.   whereas unemployment in the European Union could be related to limited sustainable job creation which, inter alia, depends on dynamic, innovative and competitive companies and on investment in research and development and lifelong learning, which can also contribute to a dynamic labour market,

E.   whereas a cutting-edge, innovative, knowledge-based economy should aim at being competitive at the top-end of the value chain and, in order to achieve this, long-term employment and a highly skilled, highly motivated workforce is required,

F.   whereas one of the aims of flexicurity is to expand the supply of jobs on the labour market and, at the same time, to enable individuals and companies to manage change and increase mobility on the European labour market and whereas flexicurity must be combined with a policy of creating stable and sustainable employment and income,

G.   whereas mobile workers still run the risk of losing social security benefits,

H.   whereas, in order to avoid unfair competition in the internal market, the EU and Member States need to make sure that a common level of standards in their respective labour laws are respected, while at the same time making sure that this does not prevent Member States from improving standards should they wish to do so,

I.   whereas flexicurity implies a balancing of rights and responsibilities for employers, workers, job seekers and public authorities and requires a climate of trust and transparent dialogue between public authorities, social partners and other stakeholders, in which all are prepared to take responsibility for change and produce balanced policy packages with a view to supporting the process of creating more and better jobs for all, to ensure gender equality and to fight discriminatory practices against vulnerable groups of workers such as migrants, younger and older workers and disabled people,

J.   whereas while the Commission communication on flexicurity sets out the principle of equality between women and men , its formulation is weak as it does not challenge the fundamental inequality between women and men encountered with regard to access to and participation in the labour market and equal sharing of unpaid work,

K.   whereas high unemployment and labour market segmentation need to be overcome by removing inequalities affecting certain groups of insufficiently covered workers, fostering job creation and by protecting a broad core of rights for all workers and access to lifelong learning,

L.   whereas part-time working, lower pay and fixed-term contracts – the main risk factors for in-work poverty – are characteristic first and foremost of the employment situation of women,

M.   whereas the Commission communication on flexicurity should be used as a basis for starting a more balanced debate on flexicurity; whereas OECD and ILO studies endorse a policy strategy that incorporates a high level of social security with a positive effect on replacement rates and productivity and whereas the European Union's concept of 'good work' includes rights and participation of employees, fair wages, protection of safety and health at work as well as a family-friendly work organisation; whereas those rights are indispensable for the acceptance of the European Union by its citizens,

N.   whereas the European Social Fund (ESF) has a vital role to play in promoting social dialogue and active labour market policies in order a ensure a strong European Social Model with more and better jobs,

O.   whereas the OECD recently stated that employment protection legislation has no significant impact on the total employment rate and that high replacement rates in unemployment benefits have a positive effect on productivity; whereas, furthermore, the ILO has demonstrated that there is a positive relationship between tenure and productivity,

1.  Believes that the rationale for an integrated approach to flexicurity is the need to achieve the objectives of the renewed Lisbon Strategy, in particular more and better jobs, and at the same time to modernise the European social models, which requires policies that address, simultaneously, the flexibility of labour markets, work organisation and labour relations, and security: employment security and social security;

2.  Recognises that, in order to succeed in the 21st century, Europe needs a well- educated workforce as well as companies that are quick to seize opportunities that arise in a fast-moving world to increase productivity and enhance innovation;

3.  Strongly endorses the conclusion that flexibility can be in the interests of the employee as well as the employer, and that this can be achieved through promoting adaptable and reliable contractual arrangements;

4.  Emphasises, however, that flexicurity can be a policy strategy for the reform of the labour market and, as such, must be comprehensive by including all the existing facets of employment and social policy at both national and EU level;

5.  Considers that, in view of the changes in national social security systems and labour law, the interpretation of the Commission's flexicurity options is too one-sided, since it takes no account of the costs the measures involve; calls, therefore, calls on the Commission to carry out a cost-benefit analysis on those options; recalls that a flexicurity concept can be put into practice only in the long term;

6.  Stresses that Europe's flexicurity strategy should examine more closely the demands of the modern economy, what sort of workforce European firms need in order to succeed, and what are the main obstacles; stresses the need to take into consideration the specific nature of one-person-companies, micro-enterprises and small enterprises producing goods and services in European and national strategies; regrets that the Commission communication envisages flexicurity solely in the context of employment relationships; calls, therefore, for public policies linked to flexicurity to set up adequate conditions for creation of this kind of enterprises, for their development and their transfer;

7.  Notes with deep concern that the Commission communication on flexicurity, while refering to promoting gender equality, completely disregards the obligations and responsibilities set out in the Commission communication entitled, 'A Roadmap for equality between women and men"; is critical of the fact that the European Union's existing legislation on promoting gender equality has so far not achieved its objectives and that the income gap between the sexes, the absence of the necessary conditions for combining work and family life, and the lack of public child-care facilities, remain a central problem for European workers;

8.  Recalls that the implementation of a set of common principles for flexicurity needs to be gender-mainstreamed and take into account:

   - the over-representation of women in non-standard employment (non-standard, fixed-term, part-time contracts) and the need to implement gender-mainstreamed labour policies;
   - frequent switching between work and care activities among women and the need for proper protection and social benefits during transitional periods (care, family responsibilities, education, training and re-training);
   - the specific situation of single parents, the vast majority of whom are women;
   - the need for work and working hours to be negotiated and organised in a flexible manner so as to enable the reconciliation of professional, family and private life;
   - the need for flexibility in vocational training and retraining and in all back-to-work measures, including during transitional periods, in order to enable the reconciliation of professional, family and private life;
   - the European Pact for Gender Equality, the Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men 2006-2010 and the Commission's communication on the Demographic Future of Europe – from Challenge to Opportunity (COM(2006)0571);

9.  Believes that flexicurity strategies should facilitate recruitment and allow a rapid response to changing economic circumstances, address those problems on the basis of a transparent dialogue between the social partners and other stakeholders, in accordance with national custom and practice, in which flexibility and security should be mutually reinforcing, and on the basis of an impact assessment;

10.  Calls on the Commission to present a proposal for a limited set of synthesised qualitative indicators on the quality in work to complement those already agreed on within the framework of the Laeken 2001 reform of the Employment Guidelines; believes that the Commission should also rely upon indicators on investment in people skills, on the level of insecurity of jobs and contracts, and on the transition between non-standard to permanent contracts in order to monitor the effectiveness of employment policies;

11.  Opposes the creation of a new indicator on the 'strictness of employment protection legislation', as proposed by the Commission;

12.  Believes, however, that one of the problems in the European Union concerns the supply of a skilled and adaptable workforce in competitive and innovative companies; stresses that the priority should be given to the creation of a flexible labour market by raising educational levels and expanding apprenticeship opportunities, training and retraining programmes; implementing effective policies against discrimination and breaking down barriers to the integration into the labour force of women, migrants, older or younger workers and other discriminated disadvantaged groups; removing obstacles to occupational and geographic mobility; and active labour market policies that support the transition from an old job to a new job; emphasises the decisive role of skilled and adaptable employees and new technologies in education and training and recalls the new forms of flexibility offered by the social partners' agreement on teleworking, part-time and fixed-term work; disagrees with the Commission's distinction between insiders and outsiders;

13.  Proposes, therefore, that the Council examine, by the end of 2007, the possibility of bringing forward the date for lifting the transitional measures obstructing the freedom of movement for workers from eight of the new Member States to 1 January 2009; stresses that removing obstacles to mobility by the end of 2008 would send an important political message confirming the European Union's commitment to doing its utmost to improving workers" geographic and occupational mobility;

14.  Recalls that the freedom of movement for workers is one of the cornerstones of the European Union, which entails the obligation to address many issues regarding the compatibility of Member States" social systems in order to ensure the full implementation of that freedom, in the best conditions for workers, to the benefit of European competitiveness and without jeopardising the achievements and balances of national social systems;

15.  Emphasises that in a globalised world, Member States must step up their efforts to treat all individuals equally in cross-border regions and that best practice requires the conclusion of fair bilateral agreements in the spirit of reciprocity between Member States;

16.  Notes that flexicurity should support and implement gender equality by promoting equal access to quality employment for women and men and by providing possibilities for reconciling work and family life, particularly in view of the fact that three-quarters of new jobs created in the European Union since 2000 are occupied by women, often already under flexible and less secure employment contracts;

17.  Proposes, therefore, that the European Council in December 2007 adopt a more balanced set of common principles of flexicurity, based on the creation of quality employment and the strengthening of the values of the European Social Model; considers that those principles should include:

   promoting stable employment relationships and sustainable labour market practices;
   action for adaptable and reliable contractual arrangements and action against abusive labour practices especially in certain non-standard contracts;
   breaking down labour market segmentation by promoting employment security and improving job security; all workers shall have a core of rights regardless of their employment status;
   reconciling employment and family or private life, and promoting the concept of 'decent work';
   partnership between government (at local, regional and national level), social partners and civil society in managing change;
   gender equality and promoting equal opportunities for all;
   designing and implementing national pathways in close consultation with social partners, in accordance with national customs and practices;
   enhancing companies' and workers' adaptability by strengthening transition security by better mobilising active labour market policies;
   a skilled and adaptable labour force, combining active labour market policies with investment in lifelong learning to enhance employability;
   a macro-economic framework for balanced and sustainable growth and more and better jobs;

18.  Recalls that the European Union has certain competences in the field of employment and social policy within the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality, and reminds the Commission and the Member States of their responsibility in guaranteeing certain rights at EU level; recalls that European legislation complements national labour market rules and is an important element when it comes to securing the rights of workers;

19.  Stresses the importance of the subsidiarity principle; emphasises that the Member States need a margin of discretion in order to balance the need for protection against the need for flexibility in accordance with the conditions and traditions of their respective national labour markets;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay particular attention to the legal situation of the self-employed, small businesses and SMEs, which is characterised by a high level of economic dependence on their customers, and to consider the most appropriate legislative means to raise their level of social protection;

21.  Stresses that the specific challenges for SMEs, and those working in SMEs, need to be taken into account in this context;

22.  Regrets that the Council has failed to progress key employment dossiers which could help promote flexicurity as a positive concept;

23.  Calls for a renewed fight against undeclared work and the black economy, which – although to a varying degree among the Member States – damages the economy, leaves workers unprotected, is detrimental to consumers, reduces tax revenues and leads to unfair competition between firms; calls on the Commission to combat undeclared work namely through more efficient coordination and administrative cooperation between national labour inspectorates and/or social partners; calls for intensive national coordination between public and private organisations involved and calls on Member States to use innovative methods based on indicators and benchmarks specific to the different business sectors in order to fight against fiscal erosion; calls upon the Commission to support the exchange of best practices between Member States in the fight against undeclared work;

24.  Is convinced that a climate of trust and dialogue can be created most effectively through the involvement of social partners and other stakeholders in adjusting national policies and promoting collective agreements as part of a participative employment system in which there is a high level of trust as a result of which a balance is guaranteed; stresses the need to address deficiencies in the coverage of collective bargaining and the need to guarantee rights of association and representation of the two sides of industry; encourages the extension of collective bargaining and social dialogue according to national customs and practices - including cross-border dialogue and sectoral dialogue - so that they include training, work organisation and issues that are connected with anticipating change, restructuring and relocation;

25.  Recalls that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to flexicurity and that each Member State should formulate the elements of their flexicurity concept on the basis of its own situation and national traditions, within the framework of the common principles;

26.  Stresses that all models of flexicurity should be based on common values that underpin the European Social Model; believes that flexibility and security requirements reinforce one another and that flexicurity allows firms and workers to adapt appropriately to the new international situation, with strong competition from the emerging economies, while maintaining a high level of social protection, social security and unemployment benefits, health and safety protection, active labour market policies, training and lifelong learning opportunities, and modern and transparent labour law; highlights, moreover, the success of recurrent and effective collective bargaining that strong and representative social partners can provide and also emphasises the need for broad welfare provisions and universal access to good quality services, such as childcare and care for other dependants; further stresses that guaranteeing those levels of social protection can support labour mobility and structural change by increasing the willingness to take risks; stresses that well-designed job protection systems provide business with the incentives to invest in workers" skills and look for innovative and productive ways to restructure, thereby enhancing internal flexibility and adaptability of business;

27.  Calls on the Commission to promote the development of the four policy components laid down in its communication on flexicurity: adaptable and reliable contractual arrangements, comprehensive lifelong learning strategies, effective active labour market policies and modern social security systems; also calls on the Commission to look at flexicurity within the wider context of the European Social Model;

28.  Emphasises that the fight against labour market segmentation should include the provision of a core of rights for all employees regardless of their specific employment status, which should include: equal treatment, protection of workers' health and safety and provisions on working and rest time, freedom of association and representation, protection against unfair dismissal, collective bargaining and collective action, and emphasises the importance of access to training as well as the continued protection of acquired rights by covering periods of education and training, improved care opportunities, maintaining essential social rights such as pension rights, training rights and right to unemployment benefits during changes in occupational situation between employment contracts and from dependent to autonomous employment; recalls that core rights and labour law provide fair living and working conditions, adequate remuneration and social protection leading to a guarantee of minimum conditions for a decent life;

29.  Stresses the need to introduce policies that prevent worker exploitation through the accumulation of non-standard contracts that do not contain the same rights as full-time employment contracts; calls for every Community employment policy to continue to keep the traditional model of the open-ended employment contract, which forms the basis of the social security systems in Member States;

30.  Stresses the need to introduce preventive and supplementary measures to counteract the recurring accumulation of atypical contracts;

31.  Calls for the creation of comprehensive lifelong learning systems, also applicable to workers with non-standard contracts; calls on the Member States to focus strategies on areas of national weakness and make tailor-made investments in education and training and to ensure that the performance of public authorities and businesses improves; calls upon the Member States to ensure the right and access to training for all;

32.  Calls for strengthening systems of industrial relations at EU and national level as a key to reaching and implementing flexicurity policies that are balanced and provide firms with the right kind of flexibility while ensuring that unfair competition at the expense of working conditions is ruled out;

33.  Emphatically acknowledges the achievements that European businesses have already made voluntarily in the social sphere, and encourages them to do still more; supports the Commission's well-considered initiative, which intends to leave the Corporate Social Responsibility commitment of companies on a voluntary basis thus also preventing the creation of extra bureaucracy;

34.  Stresses the need for companies to anticipate changes and their human resource requirements in order to plan internal training and retraining programmes for their employees;

35.  Recalls that subcontractors, new workers and casual workers are subject to flexibility with a higher probability of risk, as evidenced by their high accident rate;

36.  Considers that lifelong learning should address opportunity gaps among workers and must start in the early education system; takes the view that illiteracy and innumeracy must be fought, and qualification levels of all school leavers must be improved, beginning in the early education system;

37.  Calls on the social partners and the public authorities in the Member States to promote and invest in lifelong learning; calls, moreover, on Member States to encourage companies to increase their investment in lifelong learning;

38.  Stresses the importance of the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013) in creating new and better companies that will promote a Europe of knowledge;

39.  Recognises that innovative forms of work organisations such as learning organisations, multi-skilling and job rotation via training offered by employers, sectoral fund initiatives, regional development aid and active labour market policies support an inclusive labour market;

40.  Is convinced of the importance of encouraging stable employment relationships by improving the organisation of work and the quality of relationships at the work place based on trust and dialogue; furthermore is convinced that employment law, modern forms of lifelong learning, sustainable social security systems and effective and efficient employment policy can contribute to a high level of confidence;

41.  Recalls the importance of effective, active labour-market policies, including advice and guidance, retraining and help with mobility in order to shorten transition periods between jobs and welfare systems that should actively motivate people to look for new job opportunities while also encouraging openness to change by mitigating income loss and providing opportunities for education;

42.  Stresses the need to facilitate mobility by developing pathways of upward mobility in order to make it easier for workers to shift to more secure, stable and highly skilled employment and by promoting the recognition of skills and qualifications acquired during periods of formal education and non-formal and informal learning as defined in the Commission's above-mentioned staff working document on Progress Towards the Lisbon Objectives in Education and Training;

43.  Recalls the right of access to lifelong learning, and the recognition and transferability of formal, non-formal and informal education and competences, which are crucial factors in enabling individuals to be able to make transitions between jobs, and from unemployment or inactivity to employment, being elements that improve their employment chances;

44.  Calls on the Member States to introduce measures in order to promote equal access to quality employment for women and men that comply with the European Pact for Gender Equality and the Communication on the Demographic Future of Europe; calls on Member States to close the existing gender pay gap;

45.  Notes that women and men neither have the same starting point in the labour market, notably in terms of power balance, nor in the distribution of unpaid work;

46.  Underlines the importance of taking into consideration all aspects of flexibility, including flexibility of work organisation and working time, in particular through the use of new technologies; stresses the need for the social partners to negotiate working time arrangements better, to be sufficiently flexible to meeting the needs of employers and employees and to enable people to balance work, family and personal life;

47.  Calls on the Member States and social partners to reduce their policies of putting workers into early retirement and to introduce arrangements supporting the flexible retirement of older workers through part-time employment, job-sharing and similar schemes that promote active ageing and may increase the integration of older workers into the labour market;

48.  Reminds the Member States that in order to translate flexicurity into higher aggregate employment, there must be a supportive macro-economic environment and the strategy for flexicurity must include improved coordination of macro-economic policies and public spending in support of smart growth, with a shift in spending towards the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy;

49.  Reminds the Commission of the need to provide Parliament with the necessary time, and in any event no less than five months, to fulfil its consultative role;

50.  Considers that the common principles of flexicurity should be taken up as a cross-cutting issue and implemented by the Community institutions and the Member States within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy; calls for a revision of the Employment Guidelines to allow aspects of flexicurity to be taken into account; and also for the inclusion of a specific chapter regarding the quality and strength of social dialogue in the annual Joint Employment Report; calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve Parliament and national parliaments as well as the social partners more effectively, in accordance with national custom and practice, in the implementation and monitoring of the Open Method of Coordination, including the European Employment Strategy and the Employment Guidelines in order to optimise the efficiency of those policies; notes that the measures that fall within the Employment Guidelines, including flexicurity, are eligible for ESF support, in particular training and active labour market measures, and calls on Member States to ensure that ESF programmes contribute to the implementation of the European Employment Strategy and to flexicurity strategies;

51.  Calls on the European Council and the Commission to set an ambitious reform agenda both at EU and national level; moreover, calls on the institutions to draw up, together with Parliament, a vision for the future of social Europe; emphasises that in order to strengthen growth and increase levels of employment and quality of work, social rights and protection, which are firmly anchored in European tradition, must be ensured; stresses that the European Social Model, together with ambitious national reforms to promote more employment, will offer, in this way, real added value for working people and citizens using all the tools at its disposal; believes that only an internal market which balances economic freedom with social rights can obtain the support of its citizens;

52.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Social Protection Committee, the European Employment Committee, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries.

(1) OJ C 256, 27.10.2007, p. 108.
(2) OJ C 256, 27.10.2007, p. 102.
(3) OJ C 256, 27.10.2007, p. 93.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0339.
(5) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(6) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 141.
(7) OJ L 175, 10.7.1999, p. 43.
(8) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 131.
(9) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 452.
(11) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0206.
(12) OJ L 45, 19.2.1975, p. 19.
(13) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(14) OJ L 39, 14.2.1976, p. 40.
(15) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(16) OJ L 216, 20.8.1994, p. 12.
(17) OJ L 254, 30.9.1994, p. 64.
(18) OJ L 269, 5.10.2002, p. 15.
(19) OJ L 14, 20.1.1998, p. 9.
(20) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0062.

Last updated: 9 September 2008Legal notice