Common employment policy
- Institutional machinery for EU's employment policy
- The employment strategy of the European Union
- The activities of the European Social Fund
Unemployment became a matter of serious concern for all the countries of the Community around the mid-1970s. Until then employment problems in the Community merely consisted of structural and regional imbalances in a general context of full employment. A series of very variable economic factors led to the rapid deterioration of the employment situation in the Community, viz.: the inflation and economic recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s, resulting from monetary and energy crises [see sections 7.2.1 and 19.1.1], lively competition from recently industrialised countries in Asia with cheap labour, a degree of saturation of demand in Europe for industrial goods and the evolution of the economy and of European companies towards a post-industrial stage. Many jobs thus became superfluous and disappeared. Others were created, but required new qualifications which most of the unemployed did not possess. At the same time, women, most of who had previously stayed at home, joined the labour market in force [see section 13.5.5].
Averaging more than 10% of the active population of the Member States (with important differences between them), in the beginning of the 21st century, the unemployment rate of the European Union is seen as its gravest social problem. The economic and social costs of this unemployment are enormous. They include not only the direct expenditure on providing social security support for the unemployed, but also: the loss of tax revenue which the unemployed would pay out of their income if they were working; the increased burden on social services; rising poverty, crime and ill-health. Special concern focuses on the lack of prospects for new entrants to the labour market, especially young people and women and for people excluded from regular work [see section 13.5.6]. Under the pressure of these problems was endorsed the employment strategy of the Union.