Politics and Society/Economy

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[edit] Introduction

All over Europe, inequalities and disadvantages within the society find their reflection in the ecomic sphere. Within recent years, however, both the European Union and Member States have developed strategies, initiatives and measures dedicated both to the increase of employment rates and to an improved accessibility of disadvantaged groups to the labour market. At the same time, the European social inclusion process shall be enhanced. At least since the enforcement of the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, employment policy became part of the Europan policy agenda. Although the Member States still held responsibility for employment policy, a better coordination bewteen the individual national measures was agreed upon.

[edit] European Employment Strategy

The common European Employment Strategy, not least, resulted from the EU wide increase of unemployment data in the nineties. Among others, it requires EU Member States to develop annual National Action Plans on employment reviewing experience in mainstreaming gender and promoting gender equality. Since 2006, the term "National Action Plan" was replaced by "National Reform Programmes". The reports provide information on the respective state of implementation of the European Employment Guidelines.

Being part of the European Employment Guidelines, equal opportunities and combating discrimination are seen as essential for progress. The European Emploment Guidelines proposed by the Commission and approved by the Council, present common priorities to the Member States national employment policies.

As regards gender equality in the European Employment Strategy, a report by the European Commission’s Expert Group on Gender and Employment provides an assessment of the current indicators and suggests both ways in which the indicators can be improved and the inclusion of new and additional indicators. The report deals, among others, with indicators of gender equality in employment and unemployment, on gender segregation, on gender gaps in pay and income as well as on indicators relating to reconciling work and family life.

The Lisbon Strategy was adopted during the meeting of the European Council in Lisbon (March 2000). It is aimed at strengthening economy of the European Union (EU) and at achieving full employment by 2010.

[edit] Open Method of Coordination

The European Employment Strategy initiated a new working method at EU level, which was to become known as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). It is based on voluntary cooperation of the Member States. The method is related to five key principles: subsidiarity, convergence, management by objectives, country surveillance and an integrated approach. Meanwhile, the method is applied both in the areas of European employment and social politics.

In 2000, the Lisbon Council agreed to adopt an open menthod of coordination between the Member States in order fight social exclusion and poverty. This means that Member States co-ordinate their policies for combating poverty and social exclusion on the basis of a process of policy exchanges and mutual learning. As regards social inclusion, the OMC includes to agree on common objectives for the Union andd to establish common indicators as a means of comparing best practice and measuring progress. Moreover, EU objectives need to be translated into national and regional policies on the basis of National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion as well as reports are to be published analysing and assessing the National Reports. Not least, a Community Action Programme to promote policy cooperation and transnational exchange of learning and good practice is to be established.

[edit] National Employment Stragies

In line with the European Employment Strategy, each Member State has to set up National Action Plans / National Reform Programs on the progress that has been made in implementing the Lisbon Strategy and in the four fields of action which had been identified as “areas of priority” by the Council of the European Communities in March 2006 [1]

  1. Higher investment in knowledge and innovation
  2. Unlocking business potential, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises
  3. Increasing employment opportunities
  4. Energy policy for Europe

[edit] References

  1. Bulletin EU 3-2006 Presidency conclusions (1/10)

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