On 10 October 2019, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) approved a report by Yana Toom (Renew Europe, EE) on employment and social policy of the euro area, in the presence of then Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. It was Thyssen’s last appearance as Commissioner in the European Parliament. She used this opportunity to thank the European Commission and the European Parliament for their constructive work and expressed her hope that the road to a social Europe would continue.
The report (see also this previous article) states that labour market conditions in the euro area have improved and that the employment rate has reached a new record high of 240.7 million people in work. However, employment rates continue to vary widely between Member States, regions and population groups, which calls for more work to be done at European level.
MEPs consider quality employment to be an important factor in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, which threatens one in five Europeans. Member States are being called upon to take action to ensure that all people can afford a decent life. The European Commission has been asked to put forward a legal instrument to ensure that all workers receive an adequate minimum wage.
Despite favourable developments in the labour market and the economy, real wage growth remains below expected levels. The European Commission is called upon to present a proposal for a European unemployment benefit reinsurance system in order to protect citizens and reduce pressure on public finances in the event of economic shocks. A new financial instrument to combat long-term unemployment needs to be developed to provide financial support for initiatives and projects in regions with above-average long-term unemployment.
Almost one third of the country-specific recommendations have not been implemented by the Member States. The Commission is therefore urged to put pressure on Member States, irrespective of their euro area membership, to implement the recommendations. Implementing forward-looking reforms is crucial to strengthening the growth potential of the EU economy, promoting social inclusion and improving the social rights and well-being of all people in the Union.
Finally, MEPs in the plenary debate believe that the regulatory framework for the labour market in the Member States must be simple and flexible in order to maintain and constantly improve global competitiveness. We eagerly await the next steps of the European Commission.
>> Read the full European Parliament report here.