22

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Social and employment policies in Europe

10-09-2020

Whilst the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has affected all segments of society, some groups and geographic areas have been impacted more seriously than others. The crisis has opened up the opportunity to rethink how and what could be done differently and more efficiently over the longer term in the social and employment field at European level, including the possibility of putting social and economic considerations and rights on a more equal footing within the Union's governance framework ...

Whilst the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has affected all segments of society, some groups and geographic areas have been impacted more seriously than others. The crisis has opened up the opportunity to rethink how and what could be done differently and more efficiently over the longer term in the social and employment field at European level, including the possibility of putting social and economic considerations and rights on a more equal footing within the Union's governance framework. Focusing on the European Green Deal as the new growth strategy and strengthening the single market, of which social inclusion and fairness are an organic part, can help to tackle the root causes of the trends highlighted ever more strongly by the coronavirus triple crisis: health, economic and environmental. Some measures might imply changes to the Treaty base of the Union, but many can already be carried out within the current legal framework, where the European Union (EU) can function as a 'holding space' for experimentation and reform and pave the way to a truly resilient, sustainable and fair system. Such a system would then not only be able to absorb shocks but also to grow from them.

A more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe after coronavirus?

25-06-2020

The triple-crisis – the pandemic's public health and economic consequences intertwined with the underlying environmental crisis – may lead to increasing divergence, instead of convergence and cohesion among Member States, regions, generations and different groups of society across the EU and globally. However, if handled with a longer-term perspective with the aim of achieving a more resilient, sustainable and fair EU – the crisis also offers the opportunity to turn the three into the guiding principles ...

The triple-crisis – the pandemic's public health and economic consequences intertwined with the underlying environmental crisis – may lead to increasing divergence, instead of convergence and cohesion among Member States, regions, generations and different groups of society across the EU and globally. However, if handled with a longer-term perspective with the aim of achieving a more resilient, sustainable and fair EU – the crisis also offers the opportunity to turn the three into the guiding principles of the recovery. This applies as much for the content of the policies as for the process of their design and implementation, both in the short and longer terms.

Social governance in the European Union: Managing complex systems

12-05-2020

Whereas economic governance is now undertaken in the EU through a regulated, 'hard' framework, there is no equivalent framework for social governance. At present, social governance in the EU functions mainly within the 'soft', unregulated realms, although it is also marked by some 'hard' governance mechanisms. This paper aims to give an overview of the social aspects of EU governance. It looks at existing EU social governance mechanisms and tools, including their current state of play, the debates ...

Whereas economic governance is now undertaken in the EU through a regulated, 'hard' framework, there is no equivalent framework for social governance. At present, social governance in the EU functions mainly within the 'soft', unregulated realms, although it is also marked by some 'hard' governance mechanisms. This paper aims to give an overview of the social aspects of EU governance. It looks at existing EU social governance mechanisms and tools, including their current state of play, the debates that surround them and possible avenues for their further development. It is an updated and revised edition of a publication from November 2017: PE 614.579.

Collective intelligence at EU level: Social and democratic dimensions

31-03-2020

Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed ...

Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed people can, collectively, make better decisions than isolated individuals can – what is known as 'collective intelligence.' The social dimension of collective intelligence mainly relates to social aspects of the economy and of innovation. It shows that a holistic approach to innovation – one that includes not only technological but also social aspects – can greatly contribute to the EU's goal of promoting a just transition for everyone to a sustainable and green economy in the digital age. The EU has been taking concrete action to promote social innovation by supporting the development of its theory and practice. Mainly through funding programmes, it helps to seek new types of partners and build new capacity – and thus shape the future of local and national innovations aimed at societal needs. The democratic dimension suggests that the power of the collective can be leveraged so as to improve public decision-making systems. Supported by technology, policy-makers can harness the 'civic surplus' of citizens – thus providing smarter solutions to regulatory challenges. This is particularly relevant at EU level in view of the planned Conference on the Future of Europe, aimed at engaging communities at large and making EU decision-making more inclusive and participatory. The current coronavirus crisis is likely to change society and our economy in ways as yet too early to predict, but recovery after the crisis will require new ways of thinking and acting to overcome common challenges, and thus making use of our collective intelligence should be more urgent than ever. In the longer term, in order to mobilise collective intelligence across the EU and to fully exploit its innovative potential, the EU needs to strengthen its education policies and promote a shared understanding of a holistic approach to innovation and of collective intelligence – and thus become a 'global brain,' with a solid institutional set-up at the centre of a subsidised experimentation process that meets the challenges imposed by modern-day transformations.

Report on employment and social policies in the euro area

07-10-2019

At the beginning of the European Semester cycle, in November, the Council adopts euro-area recommendations and conclusions on the annual growth survey and the alert mechanism report. In advance of this the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, as of last year, prepares a report on employment and social policies in the euro area. This year's report puts great emphasis on the urgent need to address persistent inequalities across regions, generations and genders. It calls for social priorities to ...

At the beginning of the European Semester cycle, in November, the Council adopts euro-area recommendations and conclusions on the annual growth survey and the alert mechanism report. In advance of this the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, as of last year, prepares a report on employment and social policies in the euro area. This year's report puts great emphasis on the urgent need to address persistent inequalities across regions, generations and genders. It calls for social priorities to be placed on a par with economic ones and for the implementation rate of the country specific recommendations to be stepped up in the euro area and beyond. Parliament is due to debate the report during the October I plenary part-session.

A new directive on work-life balance

29-07-2019

Despite significant progress for some social groups in the area of work-life balance, there has been a general trend of decline since 2011, and progress amongst Member States has been uneven. This proposed directive (complemented with non-legislative measures) should lead to the repeal of the existing Framework Agreement on Parental Leave, made binding by Council Directive 2010/18/EU (the Parental Leave Directive). The new directive contains proposals for paternity, parental and carers' leave. Stakeholders ...

Despite significant progress for some social groups in the area of work-life balance, there has been a general trend of decline since 2011, and progress amongst Member States has been uneven. This proposed directive (complemented with non-legislative measures) should lead to the repeal of the existing Framework Agreement on Parental Leave, made binding by Council Directive 2010/18/EU (the Parental Leave Directive). The new directive contains proposals for paternity, parental and carers' leave. Stakeholders have been divided over the level of ambition of the proposed measures. Trilogue negotiations started in September 2018, and a provisional agreement among the three institutions was reached after the sixth trilogue meeting, in January 2019. The provisional agreement is less ambitious than the original Commission proposal and the Parliament’s position, which had, in some ways, gone further than the Commission. The text was approved by the Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee in February voted in plenary in April and adopted by the Council in June 2019. Member States have to transpose most of its provisions into national law by August 2022. Fourth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Social protection in the EU: State of play, challenges and options

11-10-2018

Globalisation, technological change, an aging population and changes to the world of work have made securing social protection for all, i.e. economic and social security, a major challenge. When social protection systems work well, they can have a stabilising effect on the economy and promote socio-economic equality and stability. By contrast, inadequate or ineffective systems can exacerbate inequality. Indeed, improving the existing social protection systems is the priority of half of the principles ...

Globalisation, technological change, an aging population and changes to the world of work have made securing social protection for all, i.e. economic and social security, a major challenge. When social protection systems work well, they can have a stabilising effect on the economy and promote socio-economic equality and stability. By contrast, inadequate or ineffective systems can exacerbate inequality. Indeed, improving the existing social protection systems is the priority of half of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights – the European Commission's overarching social field initiative designed to serve as a compass for policies updating current labour market and welfare systems. While implementation of the 'social pillar' remains primarily the responsibility of the Member States, in close cooperation with the social partners, the European Commission has put forward several legislative and non-legislative initiatives to support this process in the area of social protection. These include the proposal for a recommendation on social protection for all, including non-standard workers, responding to calls from the European Parliament and the social partners and stakeholders. This proposal had the difficult task of addressing all the disagreements that had arisen during the two-phase consultation in the preparatory phase. While all parties seem to agree on the importance of adjusting social protection to the new realities of life and work, there are differences of opinion concerning the technicalities, such as the financing of schemes. This is in part a reflection of the current evidence that raises many questions as to the optimal response to the new challenges in very diverse systems of social protection across the Member States. The main trends currently include a combination of social protection and social investment, individualisation of social protection schemes and a potential move towards universal social protection, whereby social protection would be removed from the employment relationship. However, financing these schemes poses a challenge.

Faith-based actors and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights

19-06-2018

The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly proclaimed and signed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council at the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. The 20 principles and rights that make up the Social Pillar build on the existing social acquis, i.e. social mandate contained in binding provisions of EU law, and should serve as a 'compass' for the renewal of current labour markets and welfare systems across the European Union (EU). Their implementation is largely ...

The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly proclaimed and signed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council at the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. The 20 principles and rights that make up the Social Pillar build on the existing social acquis, i.e. social mandate contained in binding provisions of EU law, and should serve as a 'compass' for the renewal of current labour markets and welfare systems across the European Union (EU). Their implementation is largely the responsibility of the Member States in cooperation with the social partners and with the support of the European Union. Faith-based organisations are similar to voluntary organisations, i.e. civil society associations, third sector organisations and non-profit organisations. Some are inspired by religious values without being formally linked to religious institutions. They play an important role in addressing social problems, particularly in relation to under-served populations. They often cooperate with secular organisations and contribute to the welfare state. In the EU context, there is no distinction between faith-based and secular organisations, when it comes to policy development, programme implementation or funding. Faith-based organisations have welcomed the Social Pillar and have emphasised in particular the role they could play in its implementation at grassroots level. Not only can they provide services, they can also help to devise strategies and funding schemes by connecting local, national and European actors. There are still a lot of gaps in the evaluation of their activities, however, which makes it difficult to quantify their real contribution to the functioning of the welfare state.

EYE event - Equal opportunities: Forever poor or born to be free?

16-05-2018

The principle of equal opportunities for all is a corner stone of democracy. It implies that, on the basis of the principle of non-discrimination, all people should have opportunities in all areas of life, such as education, employment, advancement or distribution of resources, irrespective of their age, race, gender, religion, ethnic origin or any other individual or group characteristic unrelated to ability, performance or qualifications. All kinds of inequalities affect access to opportunities ...

The principle of equal opportunities for all is a corner stone of democracy. It implies that, on the basis of the principle of non-discrimination, all people should have opportunities in all areas of life, such as education, employment, advancement or distribution of resources, irrespective of their age, race, gender, religion, ethnic origin or any other individual or group characteristic unrelated to ability, performance or qualifications. All kinds of inequalities affect access to opportunities and can lead to more inequalities. As long as all have equal access to high-quality education, other public goods and services, finance and entrepreneurship, some level of inequality of outcomes is both economically inevitable and politically acceptable. Inequalities, including those of opportunities, are currently growing and young people are particularly hardly hit. There is hardly any public debate that does not touch on this issue as it is at the core of the current global challenges. What is really at stake and how is the European Union responding?

The Future of Europe: Contours of the current debate

12-04-2018

In the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), following the referendum of June 2016, the EU launched a profound reflection on the Future of Europe, which continues in various fora and institutions. The debate has gained new momentum: the acceleration of the negotiations with the UK on its withdrawal from the EU, the electoral results in some EU Member States, and the forthcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019, have all deepened the discussion and increased ...

In the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), following the referendum of June 2016, the EU launched a profound reflection on the Future of Europe, which continues in various fora and institutions. The debate has gained new momentum: the acceleration of the negotiations with the UK on its withdrawal from the EU, the electoral results in some EU Member States, and the forthcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019, have all deepened the discussion and increased the visibility of the positions of the various actors involved. In this context, since the beginning of 2018, the European Parliament has been organising plenary debates on the 'Future of Europe' with Heads of State or Government – so far with the Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, in January; the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, in February; and the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, in March. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is due to deliver a speech during the Parliament's April 2018 plenary session. The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, have confirmed their participation in early May, in Brussels, and at the end of May, in Strasbourg, respectively. This Briefing gives an overview of where the current debate stands in a number of key policy areas, such as the future of economic and monetary union (EMU) and the EU's social dimension, as well as recent developments in EU migration policy, and security and defence. It also includes some preliminary analysis about the future, post-2020, Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and discussions on broader institutional matters. See also the parallel EPRS publication, From Rome to Sibiu – The European Council and the Future of Europe debate, PE 615.667.

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