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Austria’s federal Minister for Economy, Family and Youth, Reinhold
Mitterlehner, has sparked a fresh debate on working time flexibility. In a
recent interview, he demanded more flexible working hours and an extension of
the reference period for the averaging of working time to two years.
One of the main priorities of the Spanish Government  has been to reduce
its fiscal deficit to meet the goals agreed with the European institutions.
As a result, during its first year in government the Popular Party 
renounced some of its flagship electoral commitments including its promise to
increase pensions in line with annual inflation, as established by law.
Over the past decade, the German Federal Government  has taken many steps
to reform the country’s immigration laws brought in on 1 January 2005.
Discussion over the aims of German immigration policy has continued, however,
(*DE1205039I* , *DE1211019I* , *DE1107029I* ) and the new act has
also had an impact on other laws and regulations.
On 14 November 2012, management at steel multinational ThyssenKrupp  and
representatives of the European trade union IndustriAll Europe  signed an
agreement  on health and safety for the company’s elevator division,
ThyssenKrupp Elevator . This represents IndustriAll’s first
international agreement with a German-based multinational.
On 20 February 2013, the European Commission  issued a Communication
called Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including
implementing the European Social Fund 2014–2020 (160Kb PDF) . It called
on European Union (EU ) Member States to prioritise social investment and
to modernise their welfare states. It also gave guidance to Member States on
how best to use EU financial support, notably from the European Social Fund
, to implement the objectives it suggested.
The issue of labour clauses in public procurements has been subject to
significant debate in Norwegian working life. The Norwegian regulations
stipulate that public procurers must demand national wages and working
standards for workers employed in supplier companies and/or subcontractors
A plan to help revive the ailing car industry in France, backed with €60
million of government and industry money, was signed on 20 December 2012. The
new car charter (in French, 211 Kb PDF)  covers car manufacturers and
their suppliers from the metallurgical, plastics, rubber and textiles
industries, as well as companies from the automotive service sector, the
trade unions and the government.
More than 1,200 bankruptcy proceedings were begun in Belgium in October 2012
according to consultancy firm Graydon , a leader in commercial and
marketing information and credit and debt management. This was an increase of
7.18% compared with October 2011.
Social policy has been an important component in the policy of Slovakian
businesses for a number of years. It is also regulated by labour legislation.
Act No. 311/2001 Coll. covers the labour code, Act No. 152/1994 Coll. covers
the social fund (SF), and Act No. 2/1991 Coll. deals with collective
The independence contract (/contrat d’autonomie/) was introduced in 2008 as
part of the ‘Hope for the suburbs’ programme. The programme aimed to help
young people – those aged between16 and 25, or up to 30 in special
circumstances – from disadvantaged areas to find employment. The plan was
to offer work contracts of at least six months, or an apprenticeship. For
poorly qualified young people, a training programme was provided. Others were
given help setting up their own businesses.