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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

02-04-2019

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 2019, and now needs to be adopted in plenary. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

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.

Implementation of the Social Pillar

05-12-2017

The European Pillar of Social Rights ('Social Pillar') was proclaimed and signed jointly by the Commission, Council and European Parliament, on 17 November 2017 at the Gothenburg Social Summit. The main challenge remains bringing this reference framework to all citizens across the EU. Due to limited EU competence in the social field, implementation is for the Member States, in cooperation with social partners. Parliament has repeatedly promoted the importance of focusing on three elements in the ...

The European Pillar of Social Rights ('Social Pillar') was proclaimed and signed jointly by the Commission, Council and European Parliament, on 17 November 2017 at the Gothenburg Social Summit. The main challenge remains bringing this reference framework to all citizens across the EU. Due to limited EU competence in the social field, implementation is for the Member States, in cooperation with social partners. Parliament has repeatedly promoted the importance of focusing on three elements in the implementation process: a life-cycle approach, governance and funding. The December plenary is due to hear statements from the Commission and Council, prior to the European Council meeting in December, at which there is to be further discussion on the social dimension of the EU, including education.

Social governance in the European Union: Governing complex systems

17-11-2017

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.

Social convergence and EU accession

28-09-2017

The European Pillar of Social Rights should serve as a 'compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions in the EU Member States'. Convergence of policies, regimes and outcomes happens either by 'growing together' or 'catching up'. There is, however, no consensus in the literature concerning the effect of European integration on welfare states. It is also difficult to discern whether European policy or the extent of its domestic implementation led to a certain ...

The European Pillar of Social Rights should serve as a 'compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions in the EU Member States'. Convergence of policies, regimes and outcomes happens either by 'growing together' or 'catching up'. There is, however, no consensus in the literature concerning the effect of European integration on welfare states. It is also difficult to discern whether European policy or the extent of its domestic implementation led to a certain result. While analysing gross domestic product and income levels alongside the social expenditure of individual Member States are the most common ways of measuring social convergence, new methods for producing synthetic measures and indexes emerge. Recently, in addition to countries' different starting points in terms of their history, institutional, political, economic and cultural contexts, the importance of micro-politics and micro-sociology are stressed as an explanation of different paths of development. For better policy design, a move beyond analyses based on traditional groupings of welfare regimes is suggested. Although both modern Spain and Portugal, and the central and eastern European countries, developed from authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, their social convergence paths differed greatly. In Spain and Portugal, the transition towards democratic stabilisation that began in the mid-1970s was further encouraged by EU accession. The countries followed distinct paths, but both experienced upward convergence. Following the 2008 crisis, however, their situation deteriorated steadily. Central and eastern European countries entered the accession process with many institutional, political and social challenges stemming from their transition to democracy since 1989. Their social convergence varied following accession, but was generally weak. After 2008, social convergence in the Baltic States declined greatly, but picked up quickly later, while the other countries showed some progress up to 2011, before deteriorating.

Reflection paper on the social dimension of the EU

07-06-2017

The paper on the EU's social dimension, the first of five papers within the white paper process, is the European Commission's contribution to a debate among the leaders of the 27 Member States (other than the UK), EU institutions, social partners and citizens on two major issues in the social and employment fields: the main challenges that Member States are facing and the added value of the various EU instruments available to tackle them. By the end of the process the EU should have a clear mandate ...

The paper on the EU's social dimension, the first of five papers within the white paper process, is the European Commission's contribution to a debate among the leaders of the 27 Member States (other than the UK), EU institutions, social partners and citizens on two major issues in the social and employment fields: the main challenges that Member States are facing and the added value of the various EU instruments available to tackle them. By the end of the process the EU should have a clear mandate from the Member States on the areas it should be tackling and on the extent of their commitment to working together. The results should feed into a document setting out practical measures for moving ahead, in time for the December 2017 European Council. The concepts 'social dimension' and 'social Europe' are interpreted in diverse ways across the EU and most of the competence developed over the past 60 years to implement policies remains with the Member States. In this context the Commission is proposing three alternative scenarios: an exclusive focus on the free movement of workers, development of a multispeed Europe, and genuine deepening of economic and monetary union across the EU-27. The successful implementation of the European pillar of social rights and related initiatives will depend a great deal on the outcome of this reflection process. The European Parliament has put forward several ideas on how to strengthen the social dimension of the European project, including by linking economic and social governance more closely, and increasing budgetary capacity so as to move towards upward convergence. This briefing is one in a series on the European Commission's reflection papers following up the March 2017 White Paper on the future of Europe.

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