Council adopts EU Commission's proposal

JS – 10/2020

On 13th October 2020, the Council adopted the "Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States", which set out common priorities and objectives for employment policy measures of the Member States especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidelines deal with four subject areas. In the first subject area, the text sets out objectives and indications for stimulating the demand for labour.

The guidelines suggest here that Member States should actively promote a sustainable social market economy and support investment in the creation of quality jobs. To this end, they should reduce the obstacles faced by companies when hiring workers. The development of the social economy should be actively promoted so that positive social impacts are achieved at local level in addition to high-quality employment opportunities.

Lifelong learning and equal opportunities

In the second subject area, the guidelines recommend the promotion of relevant knowledge, skills and qualification throughout working life. As a result, it should be possible to respond to current and future requirements of the labour market in the wake of technological and ecological transition processes and demographic change. Member States should address inequalities in education and training to ensure equal opportunities for all.  

Further, the guidelines encourage Member States to work with the social partners to promote fair, transparent and reliable working conditions. Healthy and safe working environments should prevail, also with regard to the risks associated with the COVID-19 crisis. The involvement of the social partners is also encouraged for fair and adequate wages. Precarious employment relationships should be prevented by measures against the abuse of atypical contracts - also for platform workers.

Modernisation of social security

Finally, the guidelines recommend modernising national social protection systems to ensure adequate and sustainable social security for all in all phases of life. One aspect deals with pension systems. These should be designed so as to ensure adequate income during the latter stages of life. Pension reforms should be supported by measures to reduce the gender pension gap and to prolong working lives, accompanied by active ageing strategies.

European employment strategy

The guidelines are part of the European employment strategy. This was launched in 1997, when the EU Member States developed a set of common objectives for their employment policies. Its main objective is to create more and better jobs across the EU.

The European employment strategy is implemented as part of the European Semester, the annual process that promotes close policy coordination between EU Member States and the EU institutions.