Eapn policy Briefing # 27 September/October 2009 Foreword

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Background information

The ‘Lisbon Strategy’ (also referred to as the Lisbon Agenda) is a way of describing the more immediate priority objectives of the EU for the period 2000-2010. It is called the ‘Lisbon Strategy’ because it was agreed at the Lisbon Council in 2000 when the Heads of State and Government of the EU agreed the following vision: “To make the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world capable of sustaining more and better jobs and with greater social cohesion”. Progress in reaching this objective is reported to the EU Spring Council (March every year) which decides the key priorities for following up on the Lisbon Agenda. The Gothenburg Council in 2001 made environmental protection part of the ‘Lisbon Strategy’.

Following changes in most of the Governments who agreed the Lisbon Strategy, the election of a new European Parliament and the appointment of a new Commission in 2004, an evaluation of the Lisbon Strategy was launched. This evaluation was strongly influenced by the report of the ‘Kok Group” which was appointed by the Council to prepare an input into the evaluation. This evaluation led to a revised Lisbon Strategy which was agreed at the Spring Council 2005. The revised Lisbon Strategy did not change the original intentions of the Lisbon strategy but it did decide that the future orientation of the strategy should focus on Growth and Jobs. In addition it decided on a new method of governance for the Lisbon Strategy, involving the adoption in June 2005 by the Council of Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (integrating the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines –divided between Macro and Micro Economic Guidelines- and the Employment Guidelines). The European Employment Strategy started in 1997 is incorporated in the Lisbon Strategy and constitute the Employment part of it.
The new Integrated Guidelines become the basis for Member States to produce National Reform Programmes, which were submitted to the Commission in October 2005 for the period 2005–2008. National Reform Programmes (NRP) are structured into macro, micro economic and employment chapters, each providing a presentation of the situation, an outline of initiatives and measures taken in response, and a description of budgetary resources involved, including structural and cohesion funds. The Employment section of these National Plans is the National Action Plan for Employment.
These National Reform Programmes should contribute to the goal of social inclusion, through a process of feeding in and feeding out between the Lisbon strategy and the OMC (how Lisbon contributes to social inclusion and how the OMC on SPSI contributes to growth and jobs). The Commission encouraged the involvement of all relevant bodies in the preparation of these National Reform Programmes, they particularly mention public authorities at national, regional and local levels, social partners and ‘where appropriate’ civil society. Responding to the Commission, Member States have appointed national Lisbon Coordinators (‘Mr/Ms Lisbon’).
On the 25th January 2006, the Commission published its first Annual Progress Report (APR). Part I evaluates the process followed in drawing up the reform programmes, and highlights a number of key initiatives, attaching a short list of good practice examples. It also includes a more detailed analysis of the macro/micro and employment aspects linked to the Integrated Guidelines. This section serves as the basis for the Joint Employment Report. Part ll provides a detailed assessment of the National Reform Programmes, assessing strengths and weaknesses, but without going so far as to make formal country specific recommendations.

The Lisbon “annual cycle” encompass:

  • Implementation Reports of the National Reform Programmes submitted by Member States in the autumn (submitted in October 2006,). In the autumn 2008 Member States presented new National Action Plans for 2008 -2010.

See: http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/index_en.htm

  • Multilateral surveillance was carried out, involving the Cambridge Review within the EMCO framework for employment aspects within the NRPs. The Commission advocated a light touch around themes rather than being country specific ie flexicurity, life cycle approach and sustainable social protection.

  • Commission Annual Progress Report based on National Reports in the end of the year (in December 2006: adoption of APR and Country Recommendations made for the first time under the revised Lisbon strategy, December 2007 adoption of APR incorporating the analysis of the National Action Plans.),

  • The February EPSCO adopt the Joint Employment Report

  • The European Spring Council adopt both Joint Employment Report and Annual Progress Report at the Spring Council.

Responsible for the Lisbon strategy

National level: National Ministries in charge of employment and economic affairs, Mr/Ms Lisbon, social partners, Members of the Employment Committee and the Economic Policy Committee

European level: EU Commission: President Barroso and the Commission’s Secretariat General, with input from various DGs including DG EMPL. EU level representatives of social partners are actively involved.
Background resources and documents

The main documents on the Lisbon process are found on the Europa Growth and Jobs site:


EAPN key positions and past action

With the revision of the Lisbon Strategy in July 2005, EAPN has been primarily concerned about the loss of priority of the “social pillar” of Lisbon, with the primary emphasis given to “growth and jobs” as a pre-condition for reducing poverty and social exclusion. EAPN networks have engaged actively in the new process by carrying out an evaluation of the first national reform programmes through a questionnaire. The report “A future worth having” (March 2006) highlights the findings, evaluates the annual progress report and assesses how far the revised strategy is delivering on governance, social inclusion and poverty.

Key points were:

  • The neglect of a social framework of the economy, with a sidelining of the social objectives, based on the assumption that growth automatically leads to jobs and greater social inclusion.

  • The emphasis on modernizing pension and social protection systems, without ensuring an adequate income for a dignified life.

  • The focus on work at any price, and lack of demand-side measures to create quality employment, or to investigate the role of the social economy

  • The need for broader, integrated strategies with adequate support services to help people along the road to work.

  • The priority given to flexicurity, without analysing the impact on working poor.

  • The lack of engagement with civil society in the entire process

Other EAPN key references

A further EAPN response was published on the Annual Progress Report and the Joint Employment Report (See below)

On 16 January 2008, EAPN published its Response to the 2007 National Implementation Reports (Social Inclusion Scoreboard and to the Annual Progress Report: Growth, Jobs but not Inclusion EAPN has contributed to the Social Platform Position on Lisbon. See Social Platform site: http://www.socialplatform.org/code/en/camp.asp?Page=724

Making Lisbon deliver for People Experiencing Poverty – report on Implementation Reports 2007


Contact person in the Secretariat: Amana Ferro + 32 2 226 58 60 amana.ferro@eapn.eu

EAPN groups in charge: Employment Working Group

It’s up to you! What you can do:

    • Register and participate in the EWG meeting and capacity building seminar, to be held on November 20th and 21st in Greece

    • Contribute to the questionnaire dedicated to the NRP evaluation in your country and liaise with your national representative in the Social Inclusion Working Group and EXCO member to do so. (see the Lisbon Strategy section above).

    • If you are interested in finding out more about working on the Employment Guidelines, please contact Philip O’Connor (chair of the EWG and coordinator on this topic) for more information.

    • If you are interested in finding out more about the “diary project” (collecting testimonies in the shape of diaries by jobseekers or MI recipients in times of crisis), please contact Colin Hampton for more information (coordinator in the EWG for this topic).

Latest policy developments

Employment Committee (EMCO)
At their last meeting, the EMCO identifies income inequality as one of the key employment challenges for the next decade, but didn’t suggest any concrete measures to tackle it and does not make it a priority. They mention quality of work as possible key domain. There are several proposals regarding on how to improve the architecture. One refers to suppressing the narrative part of the Guidelines, as being too complicated for the common citizen to understand. Another one recommends replacing the macro/micro/employment structure with mainstreaming the guidelines throughout the strategy, rather than having three different pillars. Finally, there is a proposal to add new guidelines, especially interesting a social guideline as an extra pillar to Lisbon, “identifying social policies that do not relate to the labour market”. Interesting! Also, it was suggested to add a guideline on new jobs (green and white), as well as a guideline for migration. Regarding governance in the Lisbon strategy, it is stated that the current model does not seem to put enough pressure on Member States. One proposal invokes the suppressing of the Cambridge Review as being ineffective. Another one is to strengthen the employment OMC by improving peer pressure through score or league tables, with a more visible benchmarking with indicators. Regarding targets, country specific and individual targets are thought to better reflect MS diversity, but a common European target is also suggested – the two would work in conjunction. Employment targets for 2020 include targets on lifelong learning, for physical mobility, employability and knowledge of foreign languages. The EMCO mentions explicitly the creation of jobs in social services. However, stresses strongly “a job-intensive growth based on flexicurity and employability of the workforce, while avoiding welfare dependence”. Measures are proposed to reduce early retirement, improper use of disability and sick leave, and strong active labour market policies. Measures to tackle undeclared work are proposed (nothing concrete though), as well as improving training and activation for excluded groups (long-term unemployed, low-skilled, migrants, disabled etc).

President Barroso’s vision for the next 5 years

On July 15th, European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso presented his Political Guidelines for the next Commission. The text makes it clear that Employment is the number one concern in present times, and that stemming unemployment is a priority for a successful exit from the crisis. The document repeteadly mentions upgrading skills as the basis for more employment. President Barroso identifies fighting unemployment and promoting social cohesion as one of the 5 key priorities for the next Commission. He stresses the need for a stronger social dimension to fight rising poverty, removal of structural barriers to employment, especially for the young and the low-skilled, as well as for the ageing population. The phrase “inclusive and sustainable market economy” is recurrent in the document. Measures suggested to fight unemployment include also supporting short time working arrangements combined with training, while flexicurity principles are still to be implemented. The huge potential of “green” and “white” (=social) jobs is underlined. The document also strongly outlines the need to create decent, quality jobs, strengthening workers’ rights by promoting work-life balance and improving working conditions, but also pursuing active labour market policies and flexicurity. A more inclusive Europe should be based on gender equality, eliminating the gender pay gap, diversity, anti-discrimination and equal opportunities. Finally, President Barroso underlines that, although most employment competencies lie with the Member States, there is still an important role for the Commission to play.
Trio Presidency Operational Programme

The three upcoming Presidencies of the European Union (Spain, Belgium and Hungary) released their joint operational programme. In terms of employment measures, the document identifies promoting employment (creating more and better jobs) as the first priority, followed by fighting unemployment, with particular attention to groups having a hard time entering or staying in the labour market. The third priority is promoting social inclusion, preventing and avoiding poverty and social exclusion. The Presidencies place a special emphasis on tackling disparities in employment and social inequalities, striving to achieve a positive interplay between the OMC, the EES and the fight against poverty. In terms of the future of the EES, the document defines a set of priorities, such as developing targets for measuring the Employment Guidelines, promoting green jobs, addressing the situation of the working poor, fight labour market segregation, tackle undeclared work.
EAPN Activities
Video project

Four EAPN networks (Belgium, United Kingdom, Romania and Lithuania) are involved, through their representatives in the Employment Working Group, in the making of a video focusing on positive and negative activation practices. The video will constitute a lobbying tool for the EU and national level, and will include interviews with people identified by the four networks, to illustrate the EAPN principles on good activation. Good practices will be contrasted with bad practices in the same country. The video is supposed to be shot during the month of November 2009 and finalized in the early 2010.
Round Table on Poverty and Social Exclusion

In the framework of this event, organized by the Swedish Presidencyin Stockholm on October 15th-16th, the Employment Working Group was represented by Policy Officer Amana Ferro, on behalf of the EAPN Secretariat. She attended a workshop dedicated to Inclusive Labour Markets, where the role of social economy and particularly WISEs was underlined, not failing to stress the importance of job quality and security, which should be at the heart of any job-creation exercise. She also attended a study visit organized to the Basta social enterprise, a venture set up and run by and for recovering drug-addicts. More information about Basta can be found here.
Joint Social Conference

EAPN, together with 16 other social NGOs and trade unions, at Brussels and EU level, organized a joint conference on September 14th and 15th, in Brussels. The meeting focused on two aspects, for which separate parallel workshops were set up: social dumping and decent employment. The event was meant, first and foremost, to strengthen cooperation between social NGOs and trade unions, and to identify common positions and joint lobbying targets. This first attempt is supposed to evolve into a yearly conference, to be held in February, aimed at preparing a common position for the Spring Council. The EAPN secretariat was in charge of preparing the Issues Paper for the decent employment workshop. EAPN was represented by Director Fintan Farrell and Policy Officer Amana Ferro from the Secretariat, as well as Philip O’Connor (EAPN Ireland, Chair of the Employment Working Group), Bernart Baltza (EAPN Spain, Employment Working Group), Elke Vandermeerschen (EAPN Belgium, Employment Working Group) and Vito Telesca (EAPN Italy, Social Inclusion Working Group).
24-25/06/2009 - EAPN participated in the European Commission event called the “Employment Week”. Although meant to bring together all relevant stakeholders, participation fees were prohibitive, which resulted in feeble attendance. The event was mainly attended by training companies and EU institutions. However, EAPN managed to secure a free stand, together with our partners the AGE Platform and the European Youth Forum. Also, Johannes Jorgensen, from EAPN Sweden and member of the EAPN Employment Working Group, was guest panelist speaker in a session titled “The Social Cost of Change”. His intervention, prepared with the support of the EWG, was the key point of the session and it spurred a lively debate. More information about the event can be found here.
14/05/2009 – EAPN was represented at a conference organized by the European Commission concerning the impact of the economic crisis on labour markets. Please find here the conference programme. Materials to follow soon.
19.05.2009 – EAPN attended the Thematic Peer Review organized by the European Commission and dedicated to "Labour market policies in response to the impact of the economic crisis". Materials to follow soon.

WISE project

The project has reached its final stage. Partners are currently preparing policy recommendations for the European Union, concerning how WISEs can be supported and made more visible in European policy-making, with direct impact at national level. The results of the project will be presented in Genoa, Italy, on November 12th (the programme of the meeting can be found here, in Italian only) and also disseminated in the framework organised in Brussels to this effect on November the 24th (details to follow). The cross-cutting reports, prepared by the participating countries, as well as more information on the project and related documents can be found on the project website.

Background information
In 1997 The Amsterdam Treaty, with a new chapter on Employment has been an important step: whilst employment policies remain national competence, it clearly gives to the European Institutions a stronger role. Structural Funds are one of the main financial tools to deliver the strategy.

The components of the EES are:

- Guidelines are proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council,

- on the basis of which Member States develop annual National Action Plans for Employment

- Recommendations to each MS regarding its employment policy, proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council.

Each year a Joint Employment Report is established by the Commission and the Council which assesses the national employment policies, it is forwarded to the Spring Council.

A peer review process had been set up to support the assessment of the national best practices. National practices selected by the EMCO are reviewed by other countries and independent experts.

Indicators are selected to asses progress made by Member States

The Employment Committee (EMCO) has been established, with advisory status to promote coordination between MS on employment and labour market policies (Article 130). It gathers two representatives for each MS.

An Employment Committee subgroup does a specific work on indicators. The EMCO ad hoc group gathers a restricted number of EMCO members and prepares the work of the full EMCO regarding some selected issue (for example the ad hoc group makes a review of the NAPs).

From the revamping of the Lisbon strategy in 2005, this EES has been integrated in the Lisbon strategy and is now the employment part of the Lisbon strategy.
European Employment Strategy
Employment Communication

The European Commission put out, on July 3rd, the communication entitled “A Shared Commitment for Employment”. More information on the content, as well as the text of the communication, can be found here. The communication builds on the results of the Employment Summit (see below), in the preparation of which EAPN was involved through the Social Platform. Social NGOs expressed their disappointment at the communication, which does contain some positive steps forward, but does not overall pick up on our main concerns regarding quality of employment, the specific situation of vulnerable groups, and the social impact of the crisis. EAPN responded to the Communication, highlighting our main concerns regarding a number of issues which the document fails to adequately address. We welcome the mentioning of the Active Inclusion Recommendation, while the main point of concern continues to be the absence of a concrete plan for its implementation, both at national and at the EU level. Please read the full response here.

Informal EPSCO in Jönköping, Sweden, July 8-9

The Social Platform was invited to prepare an input for the informal meeting of Employment and Social Affairs ministers, which was held in Jönköping, Sweden, on July 8-9. EAPN contributed to this input, which you can read here. The topic of the summit was “Promoting access to employment through more inclusive labour markets and active social security policies”. The priorities put forward by this EPSCO meetng for the Swedish Presidency are: Full employment and more inclusive labour markets; Promoting good health for an ageing EU workforce, primarily through negotiating the patient mobility directive and eHealth cooperation, and progress on the pharmaceuticals package; Emphasising the importance of gender equality for economic growth and employment. You can read the press release of the Swedish Presidency related to this event here

Employment Summit

The outcome of the Employment Summit (previously called a Troika), which took place on May 7th, and of its preparatory workshops, is not very encouraging. Find relevant document here

Conclusions of the European Employment Summit

Consolidated report of the three preparatory workshops

Social NGOs to the EU Employment Summit: how to address the social crisis

EAPN press release.

Although the Social Platform was involved in the preparatory workshop (and EAPN, through the SP, as well), it was not invited to the final Summit, which benefited from no civil society participation – it was a meeting between the Troika Presidencies (the Czech, Swedish and Spanish governments), the European Commission, and social partners.
There are some positive aspects, such as mentioning putting people at the heart of the recovery plans, a more socially cohesive (including modern social protection systems) post-Lisbon strategy, an integrated approach (bringing together economic, employment and social aspects) and the explicit mentioning of vulnerable groups.
However, the social impact of the crisis is barely mentioned. Active Inclusion is not made a guiding principle. The usual agenda, keeping people into employment at all cost, flexicurity, skills upgrading and mobility is reaffirmed.
The EAPN Secretariat prepared a response letter for the EMCO prior to its discussion of the Joint Employment Report. This letter was included in the meeting documents of the EMCO and can be downloaded here.
26/02/2009 - The Commission prepared the draft Joint Employment Report, which can be downloaded on DG Employment webpage.
29/01/2009 – The European Commission presented to the Council a proposal to keep the Integrated Guidelines unchanged for 2009. This position was supported by the EMCO at its meeting on 19/02/2009.
March 08 In the framework of the Lisbon strategy (encompassing the Micro, macro and employment strategies: see section 3 above) the Spring Council endorsed Commission’s proposals regarding employment, including
1/ the Draft Joint Employment Report (part III of the Annex to the Strategic Report: see http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/pdf/european-dimension-200712-annual-progress-report/200712-annual-report-annex3_en.pdf

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