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Procedure : 2002/2147(COS)
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Thursday, 10 October 2002 - Brussels
Skills and mobility

European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Commission's Action Plan for skills and mobility (COM(2002) 72 – C5&nbhy;0287/2002 – 2002/2147(COS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2002) 72 – C5&nbhy;0287/2002),

–   having regard to Articles 39, 40, 149, and 150 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of 14 June 1971(1) and Council Regulation (EEC) 574/72 of 29 March 1972(2) on the application of social security schemes to employed persons and their families moving within the Community,

–   having regard to Council Directive 98/49/EC of 29 June 1998 on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the Community(3),

–   having regard to the report of the Commission High-Level Task Force on Skills and Mobility of 14 December 2001,

–   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 to the Council 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(4),

–   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)(5),

–   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&nbhy;0313/2002),

A.   whereas Article 15 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(6) 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 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 (EEC) No 1408/71 (which, however, does not cover compulsory occupational pension schemes), and Directive 98/49/EC 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 eastern and central European countries (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 those countries to Member States,

M.   whereas the Commission has recognised that further progress needs to be made on the mutual recognition of qualifications in its proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications(7),

N.   whereas temporary work assignments may help promote mobility as proposed by the Commission in its proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on working conditions for temporary workers(8),

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 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 action plan'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 entitled 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 (EEC) No 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 professional 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 pay particular attention to "early school leaving", which ranges 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 its 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(9) to restore momentum to consultation and launch a new dialogue encompassing the elected, trade-union and European 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 learning 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 European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999 of 12 July 1999 on the European Social Fund(10) 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 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 pensions 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 European Parliament and Council Directive 96/71/EC of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services(11) – 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.  Points out that it is important in this connection to keep the Interregional Trade Union Councils going, as they largely incorporate the operation of the EURES system, but that it is undesirable to leave their survival to the discretion of the various national governments concerned;

31.  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;

32.  Supports the Commission's efforts to issue a report in 2003 on the reciprocal effects of immigration policy, employment and social policy;

33.  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 Council Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community(12) and Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 should also take account of third-country nationals;

34.  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;

35.  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;

36.  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;

37.  Deplores the fact that it was not given an opportunity to comment on the Communication before it was presented to the Barcelona European Council;

38.  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;

39.  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;

40.  Underlines the importance in this context of the Community e-Europe and e-Learning initiatives;

Specific actions

41.   '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;

42.   '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;

43.   'Action 3": Draws attention to the role that e-Learning could play in improving the educational attainment of pupils living in isolated rural areas;

44.   '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;

45.   '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;

46.   '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;

47.   '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;

o   o

48.  Calls on the Commission to take full account of the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council, in particular the fact that 60 % of women should be participating in the labour market by 2010;

49.  Points out that the new revised and adopted Council Directive (EEC) No 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(13) 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;

50.  Considers the fact that the 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 vary both between and within Member States; calls for secondary measures in those areas to achieve the aims of the action plan;

51.  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;

52.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 149, 5.7.1971, p. 2.
(2) OJ L 74, 27.3.1972, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 209, 25.7.1998, p. 46.
(4) OJ C 177 E, 25.7.2002, p. 330.
(5) P5_TA(2002)0373.
(6) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(7) OJ C 181 E, 30.7.2002, p. 183.
(8) OJ C 203 E, 27.8.2002, p.1.
(9) Establishment of a European works council: 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: report on the application of the Directive (COM(2000) 188).
(10) OJ L 213, 13.8.1999, p. 5.
(11) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 257, 19.10.1968, p. 2.
(13) OJ L 39, 14.2.1976, p. 40.

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