Employment and Labour Market Committee holds first meeting

The recently-established Employment and Labour Market Committee held its inaugural meeting in Brussels on 29 January 1997. The Committee was established to support the European employment strategy.

The Employment and Labour Market Committee (ELC), established by a Council Decision on 20 December 1996, held its inaugural meeting in Brussels on 29 January 1997. The ELC was created in response to a request by the European Council for the setting up of a stable structure to support the work of the Labour and Social Affairs Council in employment-related matters. This area has taken on a new dimension in the context of the" European employment strategy" outlined at the European Council in Essen in December 1994. The ELC is expected to improve the balance between employment, on the one hand, and economic and monetary issues, on the other hand, in the European debate. The new Committee will fulfil a similar role to that of the Economic Policy Committee which provides advice to the Economics and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The ELC's mandate covers the monitoring of employment trends and of national employment policies, an essential plank of the Essen strategy. It should also promote exchanges of information and experience between member states, thus supporting the identification and dissemination of good practice. It will submit reports and proposals to the Council of Ministers in its field of competence. The ELC's work will be supported and complemented by the European Employment Observatory which is run by DG V of the European Commission (the Directorate General responsible for industrial relations and social affairs). The European Employment Observatory operates on the basis of two networks :

  • the MISEP network is made up of representatives of ministries of labour market and social affairs from each member state ,and provides information on the latest legislative and policy developments in the area of labour market and employment policy; and
  • the SYSDEM network consists of independent labour market experts from each member state who report on the findings of evaluations of labour market and employment policies and provide factual information on specific areas of policy making

The ELC is made up of two delegates per member state and two representatives of the European Commission. Reflecting the importance they attach to this structure, member states nominated mainly senior-level officials from their labour market and social affairs ministries, as well as, in some cases, from their economic and financial affairs ministries. The Commission is represented by the Director General for Employment and Social Affairs,Allan Larsson, and by the Director for Employment Policy in DG V,Juhani Lönroth. At its first meeting, the Committee electedHans Borstlap, the Director General for Economic Affairs in the Dutch Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, as chair. It was felt that his experience as a member of the EU Economic Policy Committee would be particularly valuable in the promotion of the integrated approach to economic and labour market policy which characterises the European employment strategy.

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