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Fair minimum wages in the EU - Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

26-10-2020

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. Based on EPRS analysis ...

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. Based on EPRS analysis, partner organisations at European, national, regional and local levels point to the following main considerations that they consider should shape discussion of the forthcoming initiative on fair minimum wages for workers in the EU: • There are fears regarding the implications of the EU initiative for the respective national systems, with the various stakeholders suggesting a cautious approach as part of what could prove to be a long-term discussion. A complex differentiated approach with several safeguards, adapted to the respective systems in place, would appear to be key to avoiding an initiative with only minimal ambitions. • A broad consensus is observed regarding the need to reinforce the social partners; strengthening social dialogue and promoting collective bargaining should be used as an opportunity to explore ambitious measures in this area. • The unresolved debate on the effects of higher minimum wages on the economy and employment situation underlines the need for detailed and regular analysis, including by means of greater use of impact assessment tools. This would be valuable in order to prevent negative consequences and demonstrate the added value of EU action. • Some specific (complementary) instruments deserve to be considered, such as the country-specific recommendations of the European Semester and public procurement procedures.

Minimum wage in the EU

19-10-2020

In 2020, most European Union (EU) Member States have a statutory minimum wage (21 of 27), while six others have wage levels determined though collective bargaining. Expressed in euros, monthly minimum wages vary widely across the EU ranging from €312 in Bulgaria to €2 142 in Luxembourg (July 2020). The disparities are significantly smaller when price level differences are eliminated. Expressed in purchasing power standard, the minimum wage ranges from PPS 547 in Latvia to PPS 1 634 in Luxembourg. ...

In 2020, most European Union (EU) Member States have a statutory minimum wage (21 of 27), while six others have wage levels determined though collective bargaining. Expressed in euros, monthly minimum wages vary widely across the EU ranging from €312 in Bulgaria to €2 142 in Luxembourg (July 2020). The disparities are significantly smaller when price level differences are eliminated. Expressed in purchasing power standard, the minimum wage ranges from PPS 547 in Latvia to PPS 1 634 in Luxembourg. The question of setting a minimum wage is one of the most analysed and debated topics in economics. Over recent years and in the context of the economic and social crisis engendered by the Covid 19 outbreak, the creation of a European minimum wage is increasingly considered as a useful instrument to ensure fair wages and social inclusion. In November 2017, the EU institutions jointly proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights, setting out the European Union's commitment to fair wages for workers. Since then, the European Commission has shown its willingness to address this issue. In particular, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated in her political guidelines that she will propose a legal instrument to ensure that every worker in the Union has a fair minimum wage. Such minimum wages should be set according to national traditions, through collective agreements or legal provisions. On 14 January 2020, the Commission launched the first phase of consultation with social partners on fair minimum wages for workers in the EU, to gather social partners' views on the possible direction of EU action. Based on the replies received, the Commission concluded that there is a need for EU action. The second phase of consultation was launched on 3 June 2020; with a deadline of 4 September 2020 for social partners to provide their opinion. A Commission proposal is expected by the end of 2020. The European Trade Union Confederation welcomed the European Commission's initiative and called for the Commission to propose a directive. Conversely, employers' organisations believe wage-setting should be left to social partners at national level. In their view, if the Commission wished to act, only an EU Council recommendation would be acceptable. The European Parliament has often debated the issue of low income and minimum income over the last decade, advocating a more inclusive economy.

Impact of coronavirus on EU aid to the most deprived

04-06-2020

Around 24 million people in the EU, or 5.6 % of the population, are 'severely materially deprived'. Fighting poverty and social exclusion is therefore a key priority, and to this end the EU supplements its Member States' aid to those most in need through the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which has a budget of €3.8 billion. Partner organisations selected by the Member States manage this support, providing food (e.g. distribution of food packages and meals) and material assistance ...

Around 24 million people in the EU, or 5.6 % of the population, are 'severely materially deprived'. Fighting poverty and social exclusion is therefore a key priority, and to this end the EU supplements its Member States' aid to those most in need through the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which has a budget of €3.8 billion. Partner organisations selected by the Member States manage this support, providing food (e.g. distribution of food packages and meals) and material assistance (e.g. clothes), or activities to improve inclusion (e.g. better access to support and social services) to those in need. In parallel, the European Social Fund (ESF) remains the broader funding instrument fighting poverty and social exclusion. The coronavirus crisis poses specific risks for the most deprived and unparalleled challenges for the activities supported by the FEAD and the ESF. To safeguard the most vulnerable, and aid workers and volunteers, against the coronavirus disease, emergency measures have been taken to provide them with protective equipment. Changes, launched in April 2020, have sought to adapt the FEAD to the challenging situation. For instance, electronic vouchers have been introduced to deliver food aid and basic material assistance, to reduce the risk of contamination during delivery. Furthermore, FEAD money has been made available for buying protective equipment for those delivering the aid. Yet again, partner organisations and other players involved in the implementation of the FEAD have been enabled to quickly address the additional needs of the most deprived arising from the crisis. During the crisis, the fund will be 100 % EU-financed, including the 15 % normally paid by the Member States. Moreover, to face the acute labour crisis and its social consequences on the most deprived, the EU has taken initiatives to address immediate needs and mitigate negative impacts on employment and social policy, including measures to support the most vulnerable or deprived groups. Since the onset of the pandemic, the European Parliament has been at the forefront of initiatives to protect the most deprived.

Employment and disability in the European Union

27-05-2020

Approximately one in six people in the European Union (EU) aged 15 and over lives with some kind of disability. Even if there has been an overall improvement in the employment situation of persons with disabilities in the EU (given the increase in employment rates), they still remain among the most disadvantaged groups as regards employment. This phenomenon considerably affects the EU's social integration ability and economic growth. Alongside and in support of Member States' policies, the EU has ...

Approximately one in six people in the European Union (EU) aged 15 and over lives with some kind of disability. Even if there has been an overall improvement in the employment situation of persons with disabilities in the EU (given the increase in employment rates), they still remain among the most disadvantaged groups as regards employment. This phenomenon considerably affects the EU's social integration ability and economic growth. Alongside and in support of Member States' policies, the EU has introduced a series of legal provisions, initiatives, actions and strategies to improve the employment situation of disabled people. In 2010, the EU signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is a legally binding international treaty. According to the CRPD, the right to work and employment is a fundamental right (Article 27). The main instrument supporting the CRPD's implementation in the EU is the European disability strategy 2010-2020. Its overall aim is to empower people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their full rights, participate in society and have equal access to employment as others. Since 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights has provided further impetus to the active social inclusion of people with disabilities. In relation to the European disability strategy 2010-2020, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Semester (established in 2010 as an annual cycle for economic, social and fiscal policy coordination), the EU supports a number of initiatives designed to assist disabled people as regards employment. These include: non-discrimination, workplace adaptations, public employment services, accessibility, financial incentives and EU funding. Since the early 1980s, the European Parliament has given priority to combating all forms of discrimination against disabled people, in particular, as regards employment. Academics and stakeholders share the view that tackling any kind of discrimination against, and fostering the active inclusion of, people with disabilities in the labour market are equally important for the EU's economy and society.

EU contribution to the fight against child poverty

11-11-2019

The number of children at risk of poverty – almost one in four – remains high in the European Union. As 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the opportunity arises to take stock of what the European Union is doing to fight child poverty. Even though legal competence for child policy remains primarily with the Member States, the fight against child poverty is a major priority of the European Union (EU). The Europe 2020 Strategy ...

The number of children at risk of poverty – almost one in four – remains high in the European Union. As 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the opportunity arises to take stock of what the European Union is doing to fight child poverty. Even though legal competence for child policy remains primarily with the Member States, the fight against child poverty is a major priority of the European Union (EU). The Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Pillar of Social Rights reflect the EU's increasing willingness to tackle child poverty, while the use of European funds is key to success. The European Parliament has always been at the forefront of this fight, most recently with the promotion of a Child Guarantee Scheme.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Nicolas Schmit – Jobs and Social Rights

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

European Accessibility Act

15-07-2019

To ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in society, and to reduce the fragmentation of legislation governing access to products and services, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive – often referred to as the European Accessibility Act. This proposal, published on 2 December 2015, provides for a common EU definition of, and implementation framework for, accessibility requirements for certain products and services. It also aims to use the same accessibility ...

To ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in society, and to reduce the fragmentation of legislation governing access to products and services, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive – often referred to as the European Accessibility Act. This proposal, published on 2 December 2015, provides for a common EU definition of, and implementation framework for, accessibility requirements for certain products and services. It also aims to use the same accessibility requirements to provide a clear definition of the existing general accessibility obligation laid down in European law. Many stakeholders welcomed the European Union's wish to honour its responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but they were divided on the means to reach this objective. In the European Parliament, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) adopted its report on 25 April 2017, which was discussed in plenary on 15 September. At the same time, Parliament gave a mandate to start negotiations with the Council. On 7 December 2017, the Council agreed on a position (general approach). On 8 November 2018, the EP and the Council came to a provisional agreement. The agreed text was adopted by the EP on 13 March 2019, then by the Council on 27 March, and published in the Official Journal on 7 June 2019. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against unemployment

28-06-2019

By promoting a high level of employment, the European Union (EU) has been involved in the fight against unemployment since as long ago as the early 1950s. The issue was brought to the top of the European agenda with the onset of the 2008 economic and financial crisis, and the consequent rise in unemployment rates in all European Union (EU) Member States. In its Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission set a target to get 75 % of 20 to 64 year-olds into employment by 2020. EU labour market conditions ...

By promoting a high level of employment, the European Union (EU) has been involved in the fight against unemployment since as long ago as the early 1950s. The issue was brought to the top of the European agenda with the onset of the 2008 economic and financial crisis, and the consequent rise in unemployment rates in all European Union (EU) Member States. In its Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission set a target to get 75 % of 20 to 64 year-olds into employment by 2020. EU labour market conditions have significantly improved in recent years, and most labour market indicators have strengthened steadily. Since mid-2013, the unemployment rate has continued to decline, and the EU is back to its pre-crisis level (6.5 % in February 2019). Despite the recovery in economic growth and its positive impact on the labour market, the EU still has to face unemployment challenges, particularly concerning differences between Member States, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including to help young people enter the labour market, to combat long-term unemployment, upgrade skills, and facilitate workers' mobility in the European Union. The improvement in labour market indicators has been reflected in citizens' improved evaluation of the EU's involvement in the fight against unemployment, but there is still a very high demand for even more EU intervention in this policy area (76 % of EU citizens). In the future, new or updated legislation relating to employment could modernise work to help in adjustment to a digital world, support sustainable transitions from unemployment into employment and between jobs, increase labour mobility and create closer coordination between economic and social policies. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)

10-04-2019

Created in 2014, the €3.8 billion Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) supplements EU Member States' own aid. Member States can choose between food and/or other basic material assistance or social inclusion activities. Partner organisations selected by the Member States manage FEAD support. The FEAD complements other EU instruments that seek to promote social cohesion, the European Social Fund in particular.

Created in 2014, the €3.8 billion Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) supplements EU Member States' own aid. Member States can choose between food and/or other basic material assistance or social inclusion activities. Partner organisations selected by the Member States manage FEAD support. The FEAD complements other EU instruments that seek to promote social cohesion, the European Social Fund in particular.

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) 2021-2027

29-03-2019

In preparation for the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) on 30 May 2018. In the same spirit as the current European Social Fund 2014-2020, the ESF+ will provide the main EU financial instrument for improving workers' mobility and employment opportunities and strengthening social cohesion, improving social fairness and increasing competitiveness across Europe for the 2021-2027 ...

In preparation for the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) on 30 May 2018. In the same spirit as the current European Social Fund 2014-2020, the ESF+ will provide the main EU financial instrument for improving workers' mobility and employment opportunities and strengthening social cohesion, improving social fairness and increasing competitiveness across Europe for the 2021-2027 period. With a provisional budget of €101.2 billion (current prices), the ESF+ should merge the existing European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), and the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD), the Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) and the EU Health Programme. The new fund will concentrate its investment in three main areas: education, employment and social inclusion. At the European Parliament, the file was assigned to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), which adopted its report on 3 December, 2018. On 16 January 2019, the committee’s amendments to increase the funding and make youth and children the main beneficiaries were approved by plenary. No trilogue meetings have taken place, and so Parliament is now due to conclude the first reading during the April I plenary session. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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