1998 employment policy guidelines adopted

In December 1997, the Commission adopted a final proposal for Guidelines for Member States employment policies for 1998, which was subsequently adopted by the Council. The guidelines are based on the four pillars of employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities. The aim is for Member States to adopt action plans for employment policy reflecting these priorities. Progress of the implementation of these action plans is to be monitored on an annual basis.

Following the special Jobs Summit which took place in Luxembourg on 20-21 November 1997 (EU9711168F), the European Commission adopted a final proposal for Guidelines for Member States' employment policies for 1998 on 3 December 1997. The proposal, which was adopted by the Council of Labour and Social Affairs Ministers on 15 December 1997 (EU9712175N), launches the European employment strategy agreed at the Amsterdam European Council meeting in June 1997 (EU9706133N). These guidelines now have to be incorporated into national employment action plans drawn up by the Member States in the form of national objectives. Member States are committed to submitting these plans in time for their examination by the European Council meeting to take place in Cardiff in June 1998. The implementation of these guidelines will be monitored regularly and an annual report will be produced by the Commission. This approach draws on the existing practice of multiannual surveillance established after the December 1994 Essen summit, to monitor the implementation of the recommendation drawn up at that meeting.

Commenting on the Jobs Summit and the guidelines, Pádraig Flynn, the Commissioner responsible for employment and social affairs said: "The Jobs Summit has been a success. The original Commission proposal was endorsed by the Summit to a very large extent. I am particularly happy that European Union targets on the new start to be given to the young, the long-term unemployed and to the unemployed generally regarding training have been accepted."

As with the draft proposal, the guidelines are based on four pillars and the following priorities under each pillar:

  • employability- tackling youth unemployment and preventing long-term unemployment, transition from passive to active labour market measures, encouraging a partnership approach and easing the transition from school to work;
  • entrepreneurship- making it easier to start up and run businesses, exploiting the opportunities for job creation and making the taxation system more employment-friendly;
  • adaptability- modernising work organisation and supporting adaptability in enterprises; and
  • equal opportunities- tackling gender gaps, reconciling work and family life facilitating reintegration into the labour market and promoting the integration of people with disabilities into working life.

Although the current proposal is very similar to that submitted to the Jobs Summit, a number of distinctions can be noted, in particular in relations to the targets being set. While the original draft called on Member States to "seek to increase the numbers of unemployed who are offered training from the current EU average of 10% towards the average of the three best performing Member States, ie above 25%, within five years", the new proposal merely states that Member States should "increase significantly the number of persons benefiting from active measures to improve their employability. In order to increase the numbers of unemployed who are offered training or any similar measure, it will in particular fix a target, in the light of its starting situation, of gradually achieving the average of the three most successful Member States, and at least 20%".

Member States are now charged with translating these guidelines into national plans of action by 15 April 1998.

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