Following the relaunch of the Youth Employment Initiative in May, this is another initiative in the context of the broader economic and social agenda of the Juncker Commission, which seeks to strengthen job creation, economic recovery and social fairness in Europe.
The proposal for a Council Recommendation (builds on the public consultation, to which EAPN contributed (link?) foresees that all jobseekers, who have been out of work for more than 12 months, receive an individual assessment and a job integration agreement, offering them a concrete and personalised plan back to work, upon reaching 18 months of unemployment. The Commission’s proposal looks into the services that are offered to long-term unemployed to help them to re-enter the labour market and proposes specific actions to strengthen them. It draws on best practices gathered by Member States.
EAPN considers this initiative very useful and timely, as we have been staunchly advocating for individualised, pathways approaches towards social participation and labour market integration, based on integrated Active Inclusion approaches. The proposed courses of action, involving stepped-up registration of the unemployed to ensure better coverage, personalised approaches and tailor-made inclusion plans, one point of contact, and close involvement of employers are all welcome steps in the right direction.
However, there are a number of missing elements / opportunities in the Commission’s proposals, as well as some hidden risks, that would not only act as barriers to the reintegration of the long-term unemployed, but might, in fact, worsen their situation and expose them to additional hardship, poverty, and exclusion. Of those, we would like to particularly highlight:
- Missing references to adequate income support, while recognition is given that over 75% of the long-term unemployed are no longer covered by unemployment benefits, it makes no concrete recommendations to ensure that adequate unemployment benefits are provided and attention to transitions to adequate minimum income. This approach undermines the holistic implementation of integrated Active Inclusion strategies, as it only features two of the three pillars – access to services and inclusive labour markets.
- No safeguards against negative activation and conditionality, while this approach seems rather to be reinforced, through explicit mentioning of linking benefits to activation, and through the enforcement of a ‘mutual responsibilities’ approach in the enforcement of the Job Integration Agreement.
- Lacking mentions of quality and sustainability of work and employment, despite the recognition that only half of those who find a job manage to escape poverty.
- No explicit role and involvement for civil-society organisations in the design, delivery, and evaluation of the proposed initiatives, despite their key role in supporting people who are most excluded from the labour market.
See here! – the proposal and other supporting documents are on the same link, right hand side.
Read more on the European Commission’s website: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=2319&furtherNews=yes
EAPN is currently preparing a Briefing for its members on the detailed content and provisions of the proposal for Recommendation.