REPORT on the Commission communication on the Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility
(COM(2002) 72 – C5‑0287/2002 – 2002/2147(COS))
19 September 2002
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Rapporteur: Regina Bastos
Draftsman (*): Ulpu Iivari, Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport
(*) Hughes Procedure
By letter of 15 February 2002, the Commission forwarded to Parliament a communication on the Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility (COM(2002) 72 – 2002/2147(COS)).
At the sitting of 1 July 2002 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred the communication to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs as the committee responsible and the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy and the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport for their opinions (C5‑0287/2002).
At the sitting of 5 September 2002 the President announced that he had also forwarded this communication to the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities for its opinion (C5-0287/2002).
At the sitting of 4 July 2002 the President announced that the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport, which had been asked for its opinion, would be involved in drawing up the report, under the Hughes Procedure.
The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs had appointed Regina Bastos rapporteur at its meeting of 19 March 2002.
It considered the Commission communication and the draft report at its meetings of 8 July and 10/11 September 2002.
At the last meeting it adopted the motion for a resolution by 33 votes with 3 abstentions.
The following were present for the vote: Theodorus J.J. Bouwman (chairman), Marie-Hélène Gillig (vice-chairman), Winfried Menrad (vice-chairman), Regina Bastos (rapporteur), Sylviane H. Ainardi, Elspeth Attwooll, Hans Udo Bullmann (for Jan Andersson ), Philip Bushill-Matthews, Chantal Cauquil (for Arlette Laguiller), Alejandro Cercas, Luigi Cocilovo, Proinsias De Rossa, Jillian Evans, Carlo Fatuzzo, Enrico Ferri, Ilda Figueiredo, Marco Formentini, Fiorella Ghilardotti (for Enrico Boselli), Anne-Karin Glase, Robert Goebbels (for Elisa Maria Damião), Richard Howitt (for Harald Ettl), Stephen Hughes, Anne Elisabet Jensen (for Daniel Ducarme), Karin Jöns, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Jean Lambert, Thomas Mann, Mario Mantovani, Ria G.H.C. Oomen-Ruijten (for Roger Helmer ), Manuel Pérez Álvarez, Bartho Pronk, Herman Schmid, Miet Smet, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Bruno Trentin (for Anna Karamanou) and Ieke van den Burg.
The opinions of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport and the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities are attached; the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy decided on 16 April 2002 not to deliver an opinion.
The report was tabled on 19 September 2002.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication on the Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility (COM(2002) 72 – C5‑0287/2002 – 2002/2147(COS))
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2002) 72 – C5‑0287/2002),
– having regard to Articles 39, 40, 149, and 150 of the EC Treaty,
– having regard to Directive 98/49/EC on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the Community,
– having regard to the report of the Commission High-Level Task Force on Skills and Mobility,
– having regard to the Commission working document on ‘The social situation in the European Union 2002’ (SEC(2002) 593),
– having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘New European Labour Markets, Open to All, with Access for All’ (COM(2001) 116),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2001 on the Commission communication on New European Labour Markets, Open to All, with Access for All,
– having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2002 on the Commission communication ‘Strengthening the local dimension of the European Employment Strategy’ (COM(2001) 629),
– having regard to the conclusions of the Stockholm European Council of 23 and 24 March 2001, the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002, and the Seville European Council of 21 and 22 June 2002,
– having regard to Rule 47(1) 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 Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport and the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities (A5‑0313/2002),
A. whereas Article 15 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights stipulates that everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation and that every citizen of the Union has the freedom to seek employment, to work, to exercise the right of establishment, and to provide services in any Member State,
B. whereas the Stockholm European Council pointed to the importance of implementing policies to remove the obstacles to labour mobility between Member States so as to create European labour markets open to all and encourage workers in the Union to acquire skills,
C. whereas the structure of, and the range of skills within, the labour force are variables having a crucial bearing on the differences in terms of Europe’s regions where job creation is concerned,
D. whereas innovative enterprises, i.e. in the services and environment sectors, could do a great deal to galvanise the potential of the knowledge-based society to create high-quality jobs,
E. whereas the social partners bear the prime responsibility for implementing lifelong education and training at the workplace; whereas collective bargaining is the ideal way to determine the conditions that have to be satisfied in order to promote access to training and enable all employees to develop their qualifications and skills,
F. whereas high-technology sectors are dominated by men, who make up nearly two-thirds of the work-force,
G. whereas cross-border mobility is still being impeded by fairly considerable obstacles relating to supplementary pensions; whereas, social security coordination in the EU has to be strengthened, through the modernisation, simplification and extension of Regulation 1408/71 (which, however, does not cover compulsory occupational pension schemes), and Directive 98/49/EC on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the Community deals with the problems only in part; whereas, in addition to the above obstacles, there are also those stemming from differences in the tax arrangements applying to frontier workers in particular,
H. having regard to the conclusions of the Lisbon Summit, endorsed by the Barcelona Summit, according to which if Europe is to develop into ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’, more Europeans will have to become skilled in the new information and communication technologies,
I. whereas the need to promote mobility should be taken carefully into account when considering any legislative measure, especially relating to employment and social matters,
J. whereas although it is still low, intra-Community migration has nevertheless been rising in recent years in some Member States and whereas the contribution of migration will become increasingly necessary to offset – at least in part – the fall in the working-age population,
K. whereas the lack of jobs is the problem for more than 18 million unemployed people in the EU and not insufficient occupational mobility, low levels of geographical mobility and poor access to information on mobility,
L. whereas unemployment in the CEEC is due to a large extent to the structural problems which businesses encounter when they attempt the difficult task of finding highly skilled workers and which are encouraging a ‘brain drain’ from CEEC to EU Member States,
M. whereas the Commission has recognised that further progress needs to be made on the mutual recognition of qualifications in its Communication on recognition of professional qualifications (COM(2002) 119),
N. whereas temporary work assignments may help promote mobility as suggested by the European Commission in its Communication on Temporary workers (COM(2002) 149),
1. Welcomes the Commission’s new Action Plan and welcomes the fact that it is consistent with its recommendation concerning the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines for 2002, which has repeated the call to remove the obstacles to geographical and occupational mobility; but points out that the abovementioned 1997 action plan had the same objectives and was only partially implemented; hopes that the new action plan will have a more substantial impact on citizens’ lives including immigrants; hopes that the Member States will respond in kind to the Action Plan by making all the structural changes required for its complete success; requests that the Commission include an annex to the communication indicating how they have incorporated the gender mainstreaming policy into all the policies, plans and actions in the communication;
2. Regrets the absence of a clear timetable for implementing the strategy’s objectives and actions; calls on the Commission to keep the European Parliament informed concerning the setting of a timetable;
3. Supports any measure seeking to encourage geographical mobility, provided that such mobility is based on a voluntary decision by the workers concerned, bearing in mind that the commitment to reduce regional imbalances and the guarantee that workers are e4ntitled to high-quality employment with rights have to constitute the priority;
4. Insists on the need for extension, modernisation and simplification of social security coordination, by speeding up the revision of Regulation 1408/71; stresses again the need for the Commission to initiate a dialogue with the social partners including those of the candidate countries, to study the possibility of laying down a “European workers’ status”, a European system of labour law and social security for workers with a permanent degree of mobility;
5. Calls on the Commission to enforce more rigorously existing Community law on mutual recognition of qualifications by more speedy referral to the Courts of First Instance and Justice of persistent breaches of such law by the public authorities in Member States, and to require all Member States to transpose the directive on the recognition of vocational qualifications into domestic law;
6. Draws the Commission’s attention to the need to promote regional initiatives and agreements in support of training and mobility;
7. Urges the Commission and the Member States to draw their attention especially to “early school leaving” ranging in different Member States from 8% to more than 40%;
8. Believes that, given their strategic role, local authorities should be involved in setting up a network of industry-based and educational advisory bodies to bring the world of work and education systems closer together;
9. Welcomes the measures proposed by the Commission, which provide for additional funding to promote youth exchanges in border regions; considers, however, that more effective action under other headings is needed in order to reduce regional imbalances;
10. Calls on the Commission, when drawing up the future employment guidelines and Commission programmes, to propose that the Member States take practical steps to enable innovative enterprises to be set up and job creation projects to be implemented, particularly in the services and environment sectors;
11. Calls on the Member States to give proper effect to the ‘entrepreneurship’ pillar of the employment guidelines; believes that they should provide support, using the necessary funds, and coordinate training-related activities more closely by promoting training for the self-employed and owners of businesses and underpinning the support services to meet their specific needs;
12. Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to establish by 2004 a network of industry/educational advisory bodies to strengthen cooperation between the world of work and the education systems as a whole and calls on the Commission to examine how such a network can help to tackle the high share of the population in the EU leaving school without formal qualifications;
13. Calls on the European works councils to restore momentum to consultation and launch a new dialogue encompassing the elected trade-union and European Union bodies with a view to drawing up assessment guidelines to enable qualifications and different forms of work experience to be genuinely transposed; believes that guidelines serving that purpose could do much to encourage worker mobility and mobility in vocational training;
14. Welcomes the fact that, as part of their efforts to foster lifelong upskilling, the social partners have taken the initiative of producing an annual report on national measures in the priority areas, namely: identification of needs, recognition and validation, support and guidance and resources; calls on the Member States, however, to draw up their national lifelong education and training pacts in close collaboration with the social partners and local and regional authorities;
15. Emphasises the importance of the role of social enterprises and the social partners at European, national and regional levels throughout the strategy’s implementation period; calls for them to be involved in the monitoring and follow-up procedure for the Action Plan and its individual initiatives; calls on the social partners to conclude company-level agreements to develop exchanges, especially in companies with operations in several Member States;
16. Calls on the Commission to note that Article 6 of the ESF Regulation could play a key part in the formulation of innovative solutions for the promotion of mobility as part of the resetting of thematic priorities;
17. Believes that the regional training initiatives and agreements to be drawn up on a partnership basis must seek to support training in occupations in which women are represented in lower numbers and to introduce ICT and new learning systems enabling women to gain access as a matter of priority, while also providing training and upskilling opportunities for older workers, the handicapped, and other disadvantaged groups;
18. Considers that teleworking is one of the main means to employ to exploit innovation in new information and communication technologies in such a way as to ensure that workers do not have to accept geographical mobility against their will, providing that the workers concerned enjoy adequate social protection;
19. Is pleased with the emphasis placed on cross-cultural education as a means of preparing young people for mobility in the European Union; calls on the Member States to ensure that they provide information and training to the heads of schools and educational bodies on the possibilities offered by the programmes available;
20. Considers it essential for trade union stakeholders to have the necessary information about the electronic communication society and the upheavals that it is entailing for traditional working patterns, employment, and union activities and practices; believes that if trade unions understand the processes now in motion, they will be better able to make a positive contribution in responding to such changes;
21. Looks favourably on the effort to make cross-border participation in pension funds a reality; accordingly welcomes the Commission’s very recent decision to begin consultations with the social partners on the transfer of supplementary pension rights in the Union and calls for Parliament likewise to be fully involved;
22. Stresses that a solution must be found regarding the excessively long qualifying period for supplementary pension rights, the effect of which is to reduce entitlement to pension for mobile workers and discriminate against women;
23. Agrees with the Commission that a success must be made of the transferability of supplementary pension rights of migrant workers; stresses once again the importance of eliminating double taxation and of working towards a single system of taxing pension income and eliminating or reducing tax on contributions;
24. Urges the Commission to lose no time in submitting its assessment – agreed upon in the posted workers directive (96/71) – which should have taken place as long ago as December 2001;
25. Welcomes the fact that the Commission has taken one important initiative in its Action Plan which Union citizens will be certain to notice, namely the projected European health insurance card; looks to the Commission to submit this measure early in 2003 to enable it to be implemented in 2004;
26. Points out that Member States have begun to actively recruit third country nationals from outside the EU; believes in this respect that the admission of labour migrants can make an important contribution to the European Employment Strategy, and therefore calls on the Commission and the Council to respect the spirit of the mandate given by Tampere European Council and to guarantee their economic, social and political integration;
27. Believes that Europe-wide databases should be set up in order to give a clear and complete picture of the forms of mobility in the educational and vocational training sphere (mobility programmes, time spent abroad on a person’s own initiative, etc. in or outside the EU);
28. Calls on the Commission to keep close track of the mobility programmes offered to young people undergoing training (university or technological training) and to encourage the Member States to provide the appropriate reception facilities (accommodation and various other services); points out to the Commission that the cost of these exchanges impedes mobility de facto and results in out-and-out selection of young people according to their financial means;
29. Hopes that the Commission will put forward effective proposals to modernise the EURES system and integrate it into the Member States’ employment services, taking into account the essential involvement of local and regional authorities and social partners, so that the EURES system will not be centralised but will continue to concentrate on the affected border regions;
30. Calls on the Commission, when drawing up the employment guidelines, to lay down migration management criteria and targets and measures to help immigrants integrate through work and help them and their families integrate into the local community through the provision of high-standard public services;
31. Supports the Commission’s efforts to issue a report in 2003 on the reciprocal effects of immigration policy, employment and social policy;
32. Supports the Commission’s call on the Council to speed up its approval of the various directives referred to in the action plan, and at the same time notes that regulations such as 1612/68 and 1408/71 should also take account of third country nationals;
33. Considers it important that the Commission, when pursuing the pre-accession strategy, should help the CEEC to identify the steps to be taken as a matter of priority in order to implement a specifically targeted policy to enable workers and job-seekers to become highly skilled;
34. Also considers it important that the CEEC, aided by Commission programmes, should set up their own innovation and research facilities to ensure that they do not lose highly skilled workers; believes that the Member States, aided to some extent by Commission programmes, should give higher profile support to exchanges of experience with CEEC and be willing to work in close collaboration to support measures to stimulate economic and employment growth and local job-creation;
35. Calls on the European institutions to set a good example by reforming the conditions of employment and remuneration of officials and other employees of the European institutions, so as to facilitate, for example, the transfer to the Community pension scheme of pension rights acquired in previous employment;
36. Deplores the fact that it was not given an opportunity to comment on the Communication before this was presented to the Barcelona European Council;
37. Signals its intention, in the event of a repetition of this manner of presenting Commission proposals, to draw the appropriate conclusions and to act on these in the context of the budgetary procedure;
38. Believes that education systems have broader and more humane objectives than training systems and that transient skills shortages should not determine their content; believes further that, in addition to vocational skills, educational systems should also seek to promote awareness of different cultures, language skills, and citizenship, which in their turn serve to promote mobility;
39. Underlines the importance in this context of the Community e-Europe and e-Learning initiatives;
40. Action 1: Stresses the importance of ensuring a good supply of well-motivated teachers with appropriate skills (especially in ICT) and the need to promote teacher exchanges between the Member States and also with the applicant countries;
41. Action 2:Calls on the Commission to identify programmes at national and regional level which have been successful in stimulating young people's interest in mathematics, science and technology, especially interest among young women; calls further on the Commission to disseminate examples of good practice;
42 Action 3: Draws attention to the role that e-Learning could play in improving the educational attainment of pupils living in isolated rural areas;
43. Action 4:Underlines that the goal of the network of industry/educational advisory bodies to be established by the Commission should be the dissemination of good practice;
44. Action 6: Draws attention to the need for an information campaign to alert employers to the existence of lifelong learning awards and to contribute to their prestige by publicising the achievements for which have they have been made;
45. Action 18: Draws attention to the need to build on the achievements of the European Year of Languages 2001; highlights the need to promote the learning of foreign languages among vocational trainees, where international mobility rates tend to be lower than among those who have passed through higher education; and points out that it is vital for the Commission and Member States to do everything in their power to encourage the learning of foreign languages from an early age;
46. Action 19: Considers that the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes are excellent examples of international mobility; considers further, however, that efforts to promote mobility need to pay more attention to the less well-qualified;
47. Calls on the Commission to take full account of the conclusions of the Lisbon summit, in particular the fact that 60 % of women should be participating in the labour market by 2010;
48. Points out that the new revised and adopted directive 76/207 will allow Member States to take positive measures for vocational training as well as access to employment where one of the sexes is under-represented and calls on the Commission to incorporate this in its proposals;
49. Considers the fact that mobility of workers with children, especially women, depends to a great extent on the availability and costs of services such as childcare and good quality education facilities which both vary between and within Member States; calls for secondary measures in those areas to achieve the aims of the action plan;
50. Requests that the Commission guarantee within the framework of its powers that men and women are equally represented in the network of industrial/educational advisory bodies and all other advisory bodies to be set up under this action plan;
51. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.
-  Not yet published in OJ.
-  OJ L 149, 5.7.1971, p. 2
-  OJ L 74, 27.3.1972, p. 1.
-  OJ L 209, 25.7.1998, p. 46.
-  Not yet published in OJ.
-  Not yet published in OJ.
-  Texts adopted, 13 December 2001, Item 30.
-  Texts adopted … July 2002, Item
-  Establishment of a European works council: Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994: report on the application of the Directive, COM(2000) 188.
The rapporteur congratulates the Commission on its Action Plan for skills and mobility. The Commission has called upon governments, industry, and workers themselves both to do more to prepare workers for occupational mobility and pave their way to better jobs and to intensify the efforts to bring about geographical mobility and a highly efficient labour market. The Action Plan is based on the recommendations of the High-Level Task Force on Skills and Mobility and consists of 25 initiatives.
As regards occupational mobility, the Commission is proposing to improve levels of education and calling for a better interface between the educational sphere and the world of work. It is also proposing to award prizes to companies or public bodies that implement particularly innovative lifelong education and training strategies.
As far as geographical mobility is concerned, the Commission is proposing that supplementary pension rights be made portable and calling for tax and allowance systems to be reformed so as to encourage regional mobility within Member States. In addition, it is calling on Member States to remove local, regional, or national restrictions relating to qualifications in collective agreements. A further important initiative is the projected European health insurance card.
Regarding information about job opportunities in the EU, the Commission is proposing to set up a one-stop Internet site to provide information about mobility in Europe, extend the EURES system, and launch a European information campaign on mobility as well as campaigns aimed at individual industries.
The European figures on mobility show that in 2000, only 1.2% of Europeans moved to another region. The British (1.9%) are the most mobile, followed by the Swedes (1.7%) and the French (1.5%), whereas the Greeks and Spaniards are the least mobile (0.1%). Crossing a border is something for a select ‘few’: in 2000, 225 000 people moved to another Member State, equivalent to 0.1% of the population of the Fifteen.
According to Anna Diamantopoulou, the Member of the Commission responsible for employment and social affairs, mobility is essential in order to create better jobs and close the skills gap on the European labour market. Furthermore, like the euro, unrestricted geographical mobility will demonstrate to citizens in visible terms how the Union can benefit their daily lives.
It will thus be an ambitious task to train highly skilled professionals able to compete on the Europe-wide labour market.
The points discussed below are those on which, in the opinion of the rapporteur, attention should focus in more detail.
First of all, given their strategic role, local authorities must be involved in setting up a network of industry-based and educational advisory bodies to bring the world of work and education systems closer together. In addition, more effective action needs to be taken under other headings in order to reduce regional imbalances. The basic reason for regional inequalities in terms of employment growth is the differences in the skill and educational levels and the mobility and adaptability of the labour force. A buoyant regional labour market seems to require highly skilled labour and innovative high-technology enterprises that generate continuing demand for highly knowledge-intensive work.
The second key point is ‘entrepreneurship’. The rapporteur believes in particular that Member States should provide support, using the necessary funds, and coordinate their training-related activities more closely by promoting the training of independent workers and company heads.
Furthermore, the social partners must play an effective role to promote access to training and upskilling for all employees.
The third important point, according to the rapporteur’s understanding, relates to the need for greater numbers of women to work in high-technology sectors. Although job opportunities have been widening, women and men are still confined to a very large extent to gender-specific occupations. High-technology sectors are dominated by men, who account for nearly two thirds of the work-force.
On a separate point, teleworking could help to ensure that workers would not have to accept geographical mobility against their will and also cover the requirements of outsourcing of business activities (videoconferences, Internet, Intranet, e-mails, virtual teams, etc.).
The emergence of this new kind of teleworking likewise makes it imperative to look again at the international division of work, the location of operations, and spatial planning. Above all, it will ultimately pose a challenge to the current structure of social relations. That is why trade union stakeholders need to have proper information about the electronic communication society and the upheavals that it is entailing for traditional working patterns, employment, and union activities and practices. If they understand the processes now in motion, they will be able to decide what attitude to take to these changes.
One subject now being widely discussed is the rules on supplementary pensions, which also impede the mobility of EU workers when they go to work in another Member State or simply change jobs in their home Member State. Even when a worker has become entitled to a pension under a supplementary pension scheme in his Member State of origin, he may not be able to carry those rights forward to a new scheme. It is not always possible within the Union to switch to a scheme based in another Member State. Even when an entitlement is portable, the approval of the regulatory or tax authority is sometimes required, and the tax incurred can be so high that cross-border portability is in practice ruled out. These problems need to be resolved as a matter of growing urgency because many Member States are tending to accord a more prominent place to supplementary pension schemes in order to tackle the challenge of population ageing.
The final point relates to the CEEC, where unemployment is due to a large extent to the structural problems which businesses encounter when they attempt the difficult task of finding highly skilled workers and which are encouraging a ‘brain drain’ from CEEC to EU Member States.
OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
10 September 2002
for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
on the Commission communication 'Action Plan on skills and mobility'
(COM(2002) 72 – C5‑0287/2002 – 2002/2147(COS))
Draftsperson: Jillian Evans
The Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities appointed Jillian Evans draftsperson at its meeting of 10 July 2002.
The committee considered the draft opinion at its meetings of 27 August 2002 and 9 September 2002.
At the last meeting it adopted the following conclusions by 16 votes to 1 abstention.
The following were present for the vote: Anna Karamanou, chairperson; Jillian Evans, draftsperson; Regina Bastos, Marielle de Sarnez, Lone Dybkjær, Fiorella Ghilardotti, Lissy Gröner, María Izquierdo Rojo, Christa Klaß, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Thomas Mann, Maria Martens, Christa Prets, Amalia Sartori, Miet Smet and Patsy Sörensen and Francesco Fiori (for James L.C. Provan, pursuant to Rule 153(2)).
The Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following points in its motion for a resolution:
1. Calls on the Commission to take full account of the conclusions of the Lisbon summit, in particular the fact that 60 % women should be participating in the labour market by 2010, regrets that the Commission has not used this communication to forward concrete policies and actions to achieve this aim.
2. Requests that the Commission includes an annex to the communication indicating how they have incorporated the gender mainstreaming policy into all the policies, plans and actions in the communication.
3. Points out that the new revised and adopted directive 76/207 will allow Member States to take positive measures for vocational training as well as access to employment where one of the sexes is under represented and calls on the Commission to incorporate this in its proposals.
4. Considers the fact that mobility of workers with children, especially women, depends to a great extent on the availability and costs of services such as childcare and good quality education facilities which both vary between and within Member States; calls for secondary measures in those areas to achieve the aims of the action plan.
5. Taking account of the fact that a large proportion of women workers are lower skilled than the national average, stresses the importance of prioritising on the job training for these women workers as well as for older workers.
6. Notes that the mobility of dual-income households within and between Member States is often hampered by the fact that one partner, mostly women, cannot find a job or an equivalent job.
7. Requests that the Commission guarantee within the framework of its powers that men and women are equally represented in the network of industrial/educational advisory bodies and all other advisory bodies to be set up under this action plan.
OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON CULTURE, YOUTH, EDUCATION, THE MEDIA AND SPORT
9 September 2002
for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
on the Commission Communication 'Action Plan for skills and mobility'
(COM(2002) 72 – C5‑0287/2002 – 2002/2147(COS))
Draftsman (*): Ulpu Iivari
(*) Hughes procedure
The Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport appointed Ulpu Iivari draftsman at its meeting of 22-23 May 2002.
It considered the draft opinion at its meeting of 10-11 July 2002 and 9 September 2002.
At the latter meeting it adopted the following conclusions unanimously.
The following were present for the vote: Michel Rocard, chairman, Vasco Graça Moura, vice-chairman; Ulpu Iivari, draftsman; Juan José Bayona de Perogordo (for Domenico Mennitti), Francis Decourrière, Thierry de La Perriere, Marielle de Sarnez, Ruth Hieronymi, Renzo Imbeni, Maria Martens, Juan Ojeda Sanz, Barbara O'Toole, Roy Perry, Christa Prets, Giorgio Ruffolo, Stavros Xarchakos, Eurig Wyn and Stefano Zappalà (for Mario Mauro, pursuant to Rule 153(2)).
THE COMMISSION PROPOSAL
1. Free movement of workers between Member States is one of the four freedoms on which the European Community rests: the implications of this have been developed in Community legislation and the case law of the Court of Justice. However, despite the arrival of the Single Market, there remain serious obstacles to free movement within the EU for work or study.
2. In 1996, the Commission set up a High-Level Panel on the free movement of persons; in 1997, it published a Communication entitled 'An action plan for the free movement of workers' (COM(1997) 0586); and in 1998, it adopted a Communication on follow-up to the Panel's recommendations (COM(1998) 403).
3. In the context of the Lisbon process, the Commission published another Communication in February 2001 on the 'New European Labour Markets' (COM(2001) 116). This announced the setting-up of another High-Level Task Force, on skills and mobility, which reported in December 2001. The present Communication, published in February 2002, sets out another action plan - on skills and mobility.
4. The Communication identifies twenty-five steps ('actions') to be taken by the Council, the Commission, the Parliament, the Member States, the social partners and the scientific community: in each case deadlines are set for their implementation. These actions aim:
- ∙to improve labour mobility - the movement of workers between jobs or economic sectors, whether within or between Member States;
- ∙to promote geographical mobility - the movement of workers between and within Member States;
- ∙to improve access to information about job and training opportunities within the EU.
5. The points in the action plan which relate to 'the improvement of education and training systems' will be developed in conjunction with steps to create a European area of lifelong learning and with follow-up to the Commission report on the concrete future steps of education and training systems.
6. Monitoring and follow-up will take place through existing mechanisms, notably the European Employment Strategy. The Commission will carry out an annual assessment of implementation of the action plan and report to the spring European Council.
7. Consultation of the European Parliament: The Commission proposal was published in mid-February and submitted to the March 2002 Barcelona European Council: presidency conclusion 33 welcomes the Action Plan and 'calls on the Council to take the necessary steps to put into practice the proposed measures'; while conclusion 34 states that a European Health Insurance Card will be introduced and a one-stop European Job Mobility Information Web Site will be set up. The Employment and Social Policy Council on 5 June 2002 has also welcomed the action plan and adopted a resolution on its implementation. The Commission has once again effectively presented its proposals direct to the European Council without giving the Parliament sufficient time to comment on these before their endorsement by the Member States. The open method of coordination seems to amount to a return to inter-governmental decision-making, in which the Commission appears content to function as little more than an enlarged Council secretariat and the Parliament has no more than a (retrospective) consultative role. If the Commission intends to abandon the Community method and the legislative procedures (including Recommendations) it provides for, the Parliament should consider exploiting its other main role - as the arm of the budgetary authority with the final say over non-compulsory expenditure - to draw attention to its wishes.
8. Hughes procedure: Under this procedure for cooperation between committees:
- ∙CULT has primary responsibility for comments on actions 1, 2, 3, 6, 18.
- ∙CULT and EMPL share responsibility for comments on actions 4, 7, 9, 10, 19,
- ∙EMPL is in the lead for all other actions.
9. The following points underlie the conclusions proposed by the draftsman:
- ∙the importance of information campaigns about mobility and about the freedom of movement for work purposes guaranteed by Community law
- ∙the contribution that the Community e-Learning and e-Europe initiatives can make to 'virtual' mobility;
- ∙the importance of teachers who are motivated and possess ICT skills;
- ∙the Commission's role in disseminating good practice developed at national and regional levels;
- ∙ensuring that less powerful groups in the labour market - the unskilled and semi-skilled, women, immigrants, the disabled, those with learning difficulties, workers in isolated rural areas - are addressed by the actions proposed;
- ∙building on the European Year of Languages 2001;
- ∙remembering that education systems have broader and more humane objectives than training systems: transient skills shortages should not determine their content.
The Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following points in its motion for a resolution:
Consultation of the Parliament
1. Deplores the fact that it was not given an opportunity to comment on the Communication before this was presented to the Barcelona European Council;
2. Signals its intention, in the event of a repetition of this manner of presenting Commission proposals, to draw the appropriate conclusions and to act on these in the context of the budgetary procedure;
3. Believes that education systems have broader and more humane objectives than training systems and that transient skills shortages should not determine their content; believes further that, in addition to vocational skills, educational systems should also seek to promote awareness of different cultures, language skills, and citizenship, which in their turn serve to promote mobility;
4. Urges the Commission to exploit to the full the contribution that IT can make to promoting virtual mobility and new ways of learning and working; underlines the importance in this context of the Community e-Europe and e-Learning initiatives;
5. Notes that, while some of the proposed actions (such as tackling disincentives arising from tax-benefit systems) can be implemented only over the medium- to long-term, establishing a one-stop mobility information site (action 23), reinforcing EURES (action 24) and launching a Community-wide mobility information campaign (action 25) are important and practical steps which can be taken in the short-term; urges the Commission and Member States to ensure that the target dates set completion of these actions are met;
6. Believes that, in the context of enlargement, information about Community law in the area of labour mobility and EU policies on mobility of labour should also be disseminated in the applicant countries;
7. Action 1: Stresses the importance of ensuring a good supply of well-motivated teachers with appropriate skills (especially in ICT) and the need to promote teacher exchanges between the Member States and also with the applicant countries;
8. Action 2: Calls on the Commission to identify programmes at national and regional level which have been successful in stimulating young people's interest in mathematics, science and technology, especially interest among young women; calls further on the Commission to disseminate examples of good practice;
9. Action 3: Underlines the need to pay particular attention to disadvantaged groups, such as immigrants, the disabled and those with learning difficulties, within the framework of efforts to improve levels of educational attainment; draws attention to the role that e-Learning could play in improving the educational attainment of pupils living in isolated rural areas;
10. Action 4: Underlines that the goal of the network of industry/educational advisory bodies to be established by the Commission should be the dissemination of good practice;
11. Action 6: Draws attention to the need for an information campaign to alert employers to the existence of lifelong learning awards and to contribute to their prestige by publicising the achievements for which have they have been made;
12. Action 7: Supports the development of ICT and e-Business skills definitions, which will in turn help promote mobility;
13. Action 9: Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to launch, by the end of 2002, a systematic exchange of experience and good practice in the field of identification, assessment and recognition of non-formal learning and firmly encourages the Commission to do everything in its power to ensure that the proposed timetable for its various actions is observed;
14. Action 18: Draws attention to the need to build on the achievements of the European Year of Languages 2001; highlights the need to promote the learning of foreign languages among vocational trainees, where international mobility rates tend to be lower than among those who have passed through higher education; and points out that it is vital for the Commission and Member States to do everything in their power to encourage the learning of foreign languages from an early age;
15. Action 19: Considers that the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes are excellent examples of international mobility; considers further, however, that efforts to promote mobility need to pay more attention to the less well-qualified.