Jobs: not always the top priority in Lisbon strategy

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Member states’ National Action Plans for growth and jobs put different degrees of emphasis on strategies for creating jobs. EURACTIV has taken a closer look at the plans of a number of key countries.

EURACTIV has selected a number of countries of particular interest: 

  • Germany, France and Italy: the three EU-15 countries whose sluggish economies are often cited as being the main impediment to growth in the EU; 
  • Denmark and Ireland: the much-discussed examples for growth and job creation, outpacing the EU average by far; 
  • Poland: the EU-10 economy with structural problems which seem to be the most difficult to overcome;
  • Slovenia: the Central European country closest to reaching western standards in many respects. 

 

 

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

National action plan (link)


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  [FR]     


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Annex: icon_pdf.gif 


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Statistical Annexes: 
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Commission: Assessment (link)


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Commission: Press release (link)


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 [FR]     


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Employment rate (2000)

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

65.6% 

65.0%   

62.1% 

63.1%   

76.3% 

75.7%   

65.2 % 

66.3%     

53.7% 

57.6%     

55.0% 

51.9 %,   

62.8% 

65.3%   

Long-term unemployment rate

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

3.7% 

5.4%   

4.1%   

3.9%   

0.9%   

1.2%   

1.6%   

1.6%   

6.3%   

4.0%   

7.4%   

10.3%   

4.1%   

3.2%   

GDP per capita in PPS

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

65.6 

65.0   

62.1 

63.1   

76.3 

75.7   

65.2 

66.3   

53.7 

57.6 (not comparable)   

55.0 

51.7   

62.8 

65.3   

Labour productivity

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

101.2 

100.6   

122.2 

118.9   

105.0 

104.1   

121.6 

129.4   

121.2 

110.5   

51.3 

62.1   

69.8 

75.2   

Youth education attainment

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

74.7 

72.8   

81.6 

79.8   

69.8 

74.8   

82.4 

85.3   

68.8 

72.9   

87.8 

89.5   

87.0 

89.7   

At-risk-of-poverty rate

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

2000 

2004 

10% 

16%   

16%   

14%   

–     

11%   

20%   

21%   

18%   

19%   

16%   

–   

11%   

–   

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

Government’s assessment of status quo ante

“ High unemployment and in particular the level of long-term unemployment, which has been high for decades, is the most pressing problem in Germany.     

The labour market and employment and labour market policy are at the same time at the centre of new challenges like demographic developments as well as of increasing international competition.”   

–     

“ The Danish labour market has a favourable starting position. Denmark has a higher employment rate than the joint EU objective of 70 percent, partially because of high participation of women.   

 Danish structural unemployment is relatively low, partially because of the Danish flexicurity  model with flexible rules on hiring and dismissal, a well-developed benefit system and an active labour market policy.   

Extensive reforms have been carried out, especially with regard to the development of structural unemployment and to keeping persons with reduced working capacity on the labour market.”   

“ In quarter 2 2005, the labour force stood at 2,014,800 – an annual increase of 4.9% (50,700 females and 43,700 males).     
The continued trend in increased female participation is evident in the rate for women rising by 2% to 51.4%.   

The unemployment rate for Q2 2005 at 4.2% is down 0.2% on 2004. Rates for males and females stood at 4.6% and 3.8% respectively.     

Unemployment comprises 85,600 persons (53,200 males and 32,400 females).     

The long-term unemployment rate remains extremely low both by historical and international standards at 1.4%, with 27,600 persons long-term unemployed.”   

“ Italian civil society is distinguished by its methods of meeting social provision requirements, which impact significantly on the structure of the state’s finances and the activity of private enterprise […]”   

The Polish labour market remains particularly unfavourable compared to that in other EU countries. The unemployment rate (on average 19% in 2004, and 18.1% in the second quarter of 2005 according to BAEL) is twice the EU average.   

Unemployment affects particularly young people (15-24). Many graduates have problems finding a first job due to a  slow job market and lack of professional experience.     

Joblessness is more common among older people (50-64)     

The activity of women on the labour market is insufficient due to a lack of organisational and legal solutions allowing them to combine jobs  with family life.    

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

Main reform objectives

“ Germany needs well-qualified young people, a higher employment rate for women, better use of older people’s potential and a working environment which can be made compatible with family life.”   

“ The government’s labour policy rests on two principles:     

1. to create conditions for bringing people back into jobs     

2. to raise the value of work.”   

“ Structural employment must be increased by 50,000-60,000 people before 2010 to counter the demographic development.”   

“ Continue to achieve higher levels of employment, improved quality and productivity of work, and social cohesion.   

Focus on education and training, including lifelong learning, to develop a highly skilled, innovative and adaptable workforce for the knowledge economy.   

Ensure an adequate labour supply to meet the economy’s needs.”   

“ The Plan indicates what the Italian government intends to do to improve the conditions of the country’s economic and social organisational structure in order to stimulate growth and employment, but above all aims at extending individuals’ freedom of choice, to enable them to do what they know how to and want to do.”   

“ Retaining the high pace of economic growth and stimulating the creation of new jobs while respecting the principles of sustainable development. […] In the labour market policy area:   

Job creation and retention and reducing unemployment.      
Improving adaptability of employees and companies through investment in human capital.”   

“ A modern social state and higher employment   

– improve labour market flexibility   

– modernise social protection systems   

– reduce social exclusion and poverty risk.”   

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

Approach chosen

“ With four laws on modern services in the labour market, Germany’s labour market policy was content-wise and organisation-wise entirely re-focused in 2003 and 2004.     

The policy aims at strengthening growth potentials in Germany and supporting the exploitation of all employment potentials.     

The leitmotif is a social system which demands a new relationship of solidarity and personal responsibility in society. For these reason, all have to contribute to the fight against unemployment: Business and trade unions, Politics and administration, but also the unemployed themselves.”   

“ the battle for employment consists of creating conditions for bringing people back into jobs and includes in particular:     

•  A new work contract for filling jobs. This was a success right away, with 31,000 contracts in August [2005] and 74,000 in September.       

•  financial incentives : a tax reduction of 1,000 euro for young people starting a job and a 1,000 euro payment for people entitled to social welfare who start a job.     

•  a policy raising employment incentives to increase the value of work as compared to welfare.     

“ Particularly, focus should be on:     

•  Continued incentives for people to get into the labour market earlier and stay there longer.     

•  Ensuring the implementation of the integration agreement, in order to increase the employment rate of immigrants and their descendants.     

•  The adaptability of employees and companies must be improved further, for example by strengthening the effort within general adult education and adult vocational training, in order to reap the gains and meet the challenges of globalisation and technological development.”   

“Supporting long term unemployed, those made redundant and the low-skilled.    Equip people with the skills to give them access to good quality and secure employment and  continue to re-integrate the long-term unemployed and the disadvantaged into the labour market.     

Action must be focused on:   

targeting low-skilled workers and the low-paid for training and further education to support their progression to better-quality and better-paid jobs;   

meeting the needs of workers who lose their jobs because of restructuring:   

fostering family-friendly employment practices and supporting women returners and   

“ […] leveraging on the nation’s human capital, through more effective organisation of general and higher education and professional training, including civil servants, so as to guarantee life-long learning for citizens […]”   

“ Reducing the charges imposed on employees with the lowest income […], Implementing new organisational and financial solutions in order to increase access to labour market services provided for the benefit of the unemployed, job seekers and employers     

 Increasing the range and quality of services provided by the county (powiat) and province labour offices […] Better information about labour market […]Activation of members of the groups particularly underprivileged on the labour market […] Professional activation of the disabled […]”   

“ 
Horizontal goals and measures:

 
Discourage early retirement   

Increase employment incentives within the social protection system   

Increase the employment of young people:
 R

eorganise higher education (introduction of the Bologna Declaration)    

Reduce the average period of study and improve study performance   

 Integrate young people into the working environment    

Equal Opportunities: 
 

Implement special programmes encouraging the promotion of women   

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

Time frame for reforms

Finished   

No time frame given   

By 2010   

By 2008   

No time frame given   

By 2008   

No time frame given   

What the Commission thinks about it 

“ […] the programme […] sets out a determined approach to tackling youth unemployment. [The Commission] advocates a more comprehensive approach to the integration into employment of low-qualified workers, including immigrants, and a more concrete plan to achieve the intended increase in childcare facilities.”   

Among the strong points of the programme, the emphasis on youth employment should be stressed. […] The Commission urges France to reinforce integrated strategies for employment.”   

“ The Commission […] calls on Denmark to ensure that the recommendations of the Welfare Commission, which reported in late 2005, lead to more concrete and specific measures to increase labour supply.”   

“Among the […]positive elements is the emphasis on the need to integrate inactive people into the labour market, to increase female participation and to address skills development. […] It […] advocates more specific measures to address pension coverage.”

“ The Commission […] calls for a more comprehensive approach in the NRP to increasing labour supply and raising employment rates, including tackling regional disparities.”   

“ The Commission’s Report […] welcomes the focus on improving education, training and lifelong learning. […] It also calls for a […] more robust approach to raising employment rates and addressing regional disparities.”   

“ The Commission’s Progress Report encourages the Slovene authorities to adopt stronger measures to ensure the long term sustainability of pension systems and to promote active ageing.”   

 

Germany 

France

Denmark 

Ireland 

Italy

Poland

Slovenia

Click here for a printable version of this table. 

In its spring 2006 economic outlookUNICE came to the following evaluation of the National Action Plans: 

  • Ambitious: Italy, Estonia, Poland, Slovenia
  • Satisfactory: Germany, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia
  • Lacking new initiative: Belgium, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, Hungary, Malta

In a joint declarationETUC, the Social Platform and EEB said: "We are worried that the 'competitiveness' agenda of the internal market is becoming dominant and that this jeopardises fundamental objectives of the Treaty. We disagree fundamentally with those claiming that competitiveness is necessary and sufficient for social cohesion and ecological sustainability. Jobs are not the best guarantee for social cohesion if the jobs that are created are second-tier positions – without decent wages and decent working conditions. Competitiveness is not served by creating an underclass of workers that is lacking skills, suffers from health-related problems and is unable to raise productivity or engage in innovation."

At the end of 2005, all 25 member states presented their National Action Plans; the Commission published, on 25 January 2006, its assessment of each of the plans. EURACTIV has found considerable differences in the plans' commitments on job creation. While some countries - e.g. Denmark and Ireland, who have less of an employment problem than most other EU countries - put job creation at the centre of their plan, others, such as Italy, hardly mention it at all, in spite of the much bigger challenges their economies must meet. 

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