Social Europe & Jobs

Student protest

Fighting youth unemployment: an EU priority

Between 2007 and 2013, youth unemployment reached record highs across Europe, dramatically increasing from 15.7% to 23.4%, according to Eurostat. EU heads of state and government agreed in February 2013 to launch a €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to get more young people into work. 

New skills and jobs: Mind the gap

Matching workers' skills with the demands of employers is seen as crucial to boosting employment rates, restoring growth and tackle looming labour shortages in sectors like health care, science and the green economy.

Services of General Interest in the EU

Water, energy, health, telecoms and transport are among the most widely-known examples of services that public authorities consider of general interest and subject to specific public service obligations. 

Labour market reforms

In the wake of the global financial and economic crises, the EU is developing a new labour market strategy as part of its successor to the 'Lisbon Agenda' for economic, social and environmental reform, which is due to end in 2010. The new roadmap will retain many of the previous ambitions, but will also be shaped by EU leaders' exit strategies.

Free movement of labour in the EU 27

Few of the EU's 'older' and wealthier member states continue to restrict access to their labour markets to workers from Eastern Europe, with Germany and Austria the only countries opting to maintain compulsory work permits until 2011.

The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

The French EU Presidency is finalising a European immigration pact which seeks to balance calls for stricter control of migratory flows with respect for developing countries and the human rights of asylum seekers.

Fighting illegal immigration: The Return Directive

Faced with an ever-increasing flow of immigrants towards its borders, the EU has adopted a directive that defines procedures for the return of illegally resident third-country nationals. But the EU initiative received bad publicity in Latin America after being labelled the 'Directive of Shame'.

An EU ‘Blue Card’ for high-skilled immigrants?

The EU is eager to attract high-skilled immigrants in order to fill its looming demographic crisis and related skills shortage. But experts warn that the right conditions must first be set. 
Economy & Jobs 25-01-2008

Flexicurity: Europe’s employment solution?

Flexicurity, first developed as a labour market policy in the Nordic countries, has been endorsed by EU leaders and the European Commission as a way of solving the Union's employment problem. However, as a new Commission faces up to Europe's worst recession for many decades, doubts have emerged as to how committed member states are towards flexicurity and making it work across the EU.
Health 08-11-2007

Quality of Life

Well-being and quality of life in a population, which are linked to factors such as standard of living, happiness, freedom and environmental health, are essential to economics and political science. Politicians are showing an increasing interest in developing a 'Gross National Happiness' index, similar to GDP.


In a joint effort, industry and the EU seek to make as many EU residents as possible computer-literate. They profit professionally and in their private lives, and the potential benefits for the economy are huge. 

Equal Opportunities

In spite of the action taken at European level for eliminating discrimination, much remains to be done. In order to promote equality in the EU, 2007 was designated the ‘Year of Equal Opportunities for All’.
Digital & Media 03-07-2007


The information society should be open to all and not discriminate against people with physical and sensory disabilities or senior citizens. In a joint effort with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, the EU is attempting to ensure that all citizens can use computers and the internet to realise their potential.
Transport 18-06-2007

Financing Universal Service for mail delivery

With full postal-market liberalisation due in 2011, the Commission wants to guarantee that European citizens continue to enjoy the right to a full universal service. A variety of financial-support mechanisms have been suggested, but many fear that none will appropriately ensure the same level of service as the current monopoly system.

ERA – European Research Area

The creation of a European Research Area (ERA) is about creating a genuine European 'internal market' for research to increase pan-European co-operation and co-ordination of national research activities.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Back on the EU agenda?

The financial and economic crises have prompted companies to move away from 'business as usual' social models in an effort to behave more responsibly. The question now is whether the new European Commission will revive the debate on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) after a period of stagnation.

Introduction – Workers’ mobility

The ability to move from one job, from one region or country to another is considered crucial for solving Europe's employment problem. Worker mobility requires not only readiness on the side of workers, but also adapted social security schemes, dedicated training and responsible employers.

Services in the Internal Market

The directive on services in the internal market was designed to break down barriers to trade in services across the EU, and help complete the single market. Despite most member states having failed to implement it by an end-2009 deadline, the European Commission harbours hopes of its completion by summer 2010.
Sports 02-11-2006

Volunteer work and sport

Most sport in the EU member states is run by volunteers. The EU sport ministers agreed, in November 2006, to set up a working group to review the status of amateur non-profit seeking sport organisations in relation to Community law, which currently makes no difference between voluntary and professional sports organisations.
Digital & Media 10-10-2006

Bridging the ‘digital divide’: EU policies

Widespread access to modern information and communication technologies (internet, TV, telephone) is considered to be a driving factor behind the EU's efforts to become the world's leading knowledge-based economy (Lisbon strategy). However, poverty or lack of basic ICT skills still prevent this ambition from turning into reality, while at the same time effectively barring businesses from potentially highly lucrative markets in the EU-15 as well as in the new member states. Addressing this so-called 'digital divide' could therefore become a key element in the EU's Lisbon strategy for long-term economic growth.
Sports 01-08-2006

Sport and social inclusion

A declaration annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty emphasises "the social significance of sport, in particular its role in forging identity and bringing people together" and the EU institutions along many NGOs now emphasise the role of sports as a tool for social integration and fighting intolerance.
Public Affairs 19-06-2006

Stakeholder consultation: A voice for civil society in Europe?

EU institutions have always sought input by national administrations, businesses and civil society groups - or lobbyists - to assist them shaping or implementing policies. The practice became compulsory in 1997 with the Amsterdam Treaty requiring the Commission to consult widely and publish documents before putting forward major new pieces of legislation. This led to the adoption of basic principles for public consultation to ensure all relevant interested parties are properly heard. Three years on, the Commission wants to take the process to the next level by making public consultations a full aspect of EU lawmaking. In doing this, the Commission hopes to bolster the EU's transparency and legitimacy and regain public trust in the European project.

Corporate Sustainability

Over the last ten years, many businesses have become aware of the need to incorporate sustainable development into their core business activities. What is corporate sustainability and is the EU doing enough to promote sustainable businesses?

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is, for the EU, "the guiding principle for the development of education and training policy". While promoting social inclusion and personal fulfilment, lifelong learning develops people's employability and adaptability, and is therefore a core element of the Jobs and Growth strategy.