Archive pour la catégorie ‘Employment’

The European Parliament provides a common set of rights for foreign workers

Mardi 6 décembre 2011

A single permit work should facilitate the formalities for more fairness

The proposed directive would simplify administrative requirements for third-country nationals by enabling them to obtain work and residence permits via a single procedure and grant them a standard set of rights comparable to those enjoyed by EU workers, such as decent basic working conditions, recognition of educational and professional qualifications and access to social security.

Member States would have four months within which to decide on a single permit application. These rules do not affect EU countries’ power to decide whether or not to admit non-EU workers or how many to admit.

The compromise text approved by the Civil Liberties Committee had already won the backing of the Employment Committee (associated committees).

Who is covered?

The agreed rules would apply to non-EU nationals who wish to reside and work in a Member State, or who already legally reside or work in a Member State. The new law would not cover long-term residents, refugees and posted workers (who are already subject to other EU rules), seasonal workers or intra-company transferees (who will be covered by other EU directives). Au pairs and seafarers sailing under the flag of a Member State are also excluded.

A new set of rights

Under the agreement, single permit holders would enjoy equal treatment with EU nationals as regards pay and dismissal, health and safety at work, the right to join trade unions, recognition of diplomas, access to public goods and services and social security.

Non-EU workers could also claim tax benefits under the directive if they are tax residents in the Member State concerned. Their families would be able to receive these benefits only if they live in the same EU country as the worker. However, Member States could restrict access to public services, such as public housing, to those foreign workers who have jobs.

Social security and pensions

As a general rule, non-EU workers would have access to social security on the same terms as EU nationals. However, Member States could apply restrictions to workers with contracts of less than 6 months’ duration. For non-EU citizens admitted to follow a course of study, family benefits could also be further restricted.

At the request of MEPs, the draft directive ensures that non-EU workers would be able to receive their pensions when moving back to their home country under the same conditions and at the same rates as the nationals of the Member State concerned.

Vocational training and education

Also at the request of MEPs, vocational training and education would be provided for non-EU workers who have a job or are registered as unemployed. During the negotiations, MEPs rejected a proposal by Member States to limit these services to foreign workers in employment. With respect to access to university or vocational training not linked directly to the work activity, EU countries could set specific conditions, such as language proficiency.

Background

The text backed by the Civil Liberties and Employment committees on Monday is the same as that agreed by Parliament and the Member States last July, which was endorsed by Council at the first reading on 24 November.

Next steps

Parliament as a whole is to put the agreed text to a vote in the next plenary session (12-15 December). Member States will have two years in which to transpose the directive into their national laws.

The European Commission is launching a new maritime strategy for growth in Atlantic

Vendredi 25 novembre 2011

The strategy identifies challenges and opportunities in the region and takes stock of existing initiatives that can support growth and job creation. The strategy will be implemented through an Action Plan in 2013. The Commission calls on stakeholders to help design concrete projects which would be able to benefit from EU funding. The Commission will facilitate the development of this Action Plan through a series of workshops and discussion groups that will be open to a wide array of participants - the ‘Atlantic Forum’. The new strategy is developed under the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy and follows similar strategies for the Baltic, the Arctic and the Mediterranean areas. Commissioner Damanaki will present the strategy at the high-level Lisbon Atlantic Conference and Stakeholder Day, on 28-29 November, where a first discussion will take place.

The Commission invites all stakeholders - national, regional and local authorities, the industry, civil society, and think tanks – to contribute their expertise and ideas to the Action Plan through the ‘Atlantic Forum’. It will comprise a set of workshops focused on the challenges and opportunities outlined in the strategy, and an online discussion forum. The Forum will be launched in 2012 and dissolved in 2013, after it will have contributed to the Action Plan. The strategy does not foresee additional funding for its implementation: actions will be supported from existing and future EU funds.

Great potential for blue growth
The Atlantic Ocean has high potential for wind, wave and tidal energy. It is estimated that by 2020 around 20% of Europe’s offshore wind capacity could be located in the Atlantic region. Sea-bed mining could help meet some of the EU’s demand for raw materials. Offshore aquaculture is a promising sector, and one third of all the fish caught by the EU’s fishing fleet is landed in the Atlantic ports.

But most of these opportunities are still in their infancy and need to be nurtured to grow into self-sustained industries. That is where the public authorities and other stakeholders in the region step in; and the EU can help ensure synergies on a transnational level. Much is already being done, but these actions need to be streamlined and reinforced through efficient use of existing and future EU funds.

For example, maritime spatial planning can boost aquaculture, as it gives investors greater legal certainty and prevents conflicts for marine space. Marine knowledge and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET) can provide marine data that are indispensable for taking informed decisions. Better integration of maritime surveillance can help respond faster to threats and emergencies, from natural disasters to piracy, making the Atlantic Ocean safer.

New industries, however, cannot develop without a skilled workforce. Clusters of academia and maritime industries should be supported and workers need assistance and re-training to help them move from declining industries, such as fisheries, to emerging ones. As regards tourism, the Atlantic region has a lot to offer to holidaymakers. Its culture, cuisine and natural beauty are assets to further exploit.

Background
Coasts, territorial and jurisdictional waters of five EU member states (France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and their overseas territories, i.e. the Azores, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin), as well as international waters fall within the strategy’s scope. The strategy does not cover the North Sea or the Arctic Ocean. A separate strategy exists for the latter.

The development of the Atlantic Strategy dovetails with the Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU, which aims to coordinate all EU policies with a maritime dimension to ensure environmental sustainability and the quality of living conditions in coastal regions while promoting the growth potential of maritime industries. Strategies have already been adopted for the Baltic Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

European renewal adopted for 2012

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Delivering European renewal is the name of the work program for 2012 adopted today by the European Commission.

The Programme sets out how the Commission will build on the ambitious set of proposals to respond to the economic crisis already on the table with further measures next year. It translates the political priorities identified by President Barroso in the State of the Union address1 into concrete actions for the next year.

The Programme underlines that significant attention will have to be given next year to taking forward proposals already adopted or in the pipeline for the coming weeks. These include measures on the economy, the Single Market, and the wide range of proposals now coming forward on spending programmes to drive reform and renewal. New proposals will build on this programme to reinforce the drive to job-creating growth.

President Barroso said that in his State of the Union Address he called for a European renewal. The top priority is to adopt and swiftly implement the ambitious package of proposals to restore confidence in the European economy. The Commission work programme goes even further and concentrates on measures that will support all possibilities to counter the current difficult economic prospects.

The main priorities over the next 12 months include:

Building a Europe of stability and responsibility
The completion of the financial sector reform in 2012 is one of the main aims of the programme, with a focus on investor protection. The Commission will also take steps to protect public revenues in areas like tax havens and VAT fraud.

Building a Union of growth and solidarity
As the Single Market approaches its 20th birthday, it remains the most important vehicle for growth and job creation. Next year will see a particular emphasis on making the digital single market work better, giving consumers and operators confidence in online transactions. A comprehensive Consumer Agenda will further set out more steps to help consumers to use the Single Market to best effect.

Other measures will focus on encouraging a jobs-rich recovery, and continuing to shape the sustainable economy vital for the long term. This will include measures on pensions, on vehicle emissions, and on water supplies.

Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world
The EU’s economic recovery and its political reach depend on a united EU as the best platform to protect and promote our interests and values. As well as promoting a wide range of trade agreements, the EU will continue to offer support for the peaceful and prosperous development in the Southern Mediterranean.

In all these areas, the Work Programmes underlines the need for the EU to be united, and to work together to ensure that proposals and ideas are translated into laws and practical implementation on the ground.

Background
The President’s State of the Union address end of September 2011 launched a debate on the priorities of the Union for the year to come. The Commission Work Programme takes account of these exchanges and suggests concrete actions for 2012 and beyond.

The Commission Work Programme is accompanied by three annexes:

- a list of 129 initiatives2 which the Commission intends to deliver in 2012, and other possible initiatives which it will consider until the end of the mandate (annex 1).
- a list of simplification and administrative burden reduction initiatives (annex II) and a list of proposed withdrawals of pending initiatives (annex III).

The Commission will now work closely with the European Parliament and the Council, as well as stakeholders, including national Parliaments to ensure a broad ownership of the political priorities as well as on individual initiatives.

European renewal adopted for 2012

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Delivering European renewal is the name of the work program for 2012 adopted today by the European Commission.

The Programme sets out how the Commission will build on the ambitious set of proposals to respond to the economic crisis already on the table with further measures next year. It translates the political priorities identified by President Barroso in the State of the Union address1 into concrete actions for the next year.

The Programme underlines that significant attention will have to be given next year to taking forward proposals already adopted or in the pipeline for the coming weeks. These include measures on the economy, the Single Market, and the wide range of proposals now coming forward on spending programmes to drive reform and renewal. New proposals will build on this programme to reinforce the drive to job-creating growth.

President Barroso said that in his State of the Union Address he called for a European renewal. The top priority is to adopt and swiftly implement the ambitious package of proposals to restore confidence in the European economy. The Commission work programme goes even further and concentrates on measures that will support all possibilities to counter the current difficult economic prospects.

The main priorities over the next 12 months include:

Building a Europe of stability and responsibility
The completion of the financial sector reform in 2012 is one of the main aims of the programme, with a focus on investor protection. The Commission will also take steps to protect public revenues in areas like tax havens and VAT fraud.

Building a Union of growth and solidarity
As the Single Market approaches its 20th birthday, it remains the most important vehicle for growth and job creation. Next year will see a particular emphasis on making the digital single market work better, giving consumers and operators confidence in online transactions. A comprehensive Consumer Agenda will further set out more steps to help consumers to use the Single Market to best effect.

Other measures will focus on encouraging a jobs-rich recovery, and continuing to shape the sustainable economy vital for the long term. This will include measures on pensions, on vehicle emissions, and on water supplies.

Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world
The EU’s economic recovery and its political reach depend on a united EU as the best platform to protect and promote our interests and values. As well as promoting a wide range of trade agreements, the EU will continue to offer support for the peaceful and prosperous development in the Southern Mediterranean.

In all these areas, the Work Programmes underlines the need for the EU to be united, and to work together to ensure that proposals and ideas are translated into laws and practical implementation on the ground.

Background
The President’s State of the Union address end of September 2011 launched a debate on the priorities of the Union for the year to come. The Commission Work Programme takes account of these exchanges and suggests concrete actions for 2012 and beyond.

The Commission Work Programme is accompanied by three annexes:

- a list of 129 initiatives2 which the Commission intends to deliver in 2012, and other possible initiatives which it will consider until the end of the mandate (annex 1).
- a list of simplification and administrative burden reduction initiatives (annex II) and a list of proposed withdrawals of pending initiatives (annex III).

The Commission will now work closely with the European Parliament and the Council, as well as stakeholders, including national Parliaments to ensure a broad ownership of the political priorities as well as on individual initiatives.

Objective: avoiding mistakes in spending on cohesion policy

Lundi 14 novembre 2011

DG Regio has published a working paper analyzing the errors of the cohesion policy between 2006 and 2009. It also indicated what actions can be implemented to avoid such errors.

While errors do exist, they are concentrated in a handful of programmes in a small number of Member States. The document stresses however, that ‘errors’ are not equal to ‘fraud’. The term ‘error’ is used for any non-compliance with a condition for receiving EU funds, while ‘fraud’ entails deliberate or criminal deception for the purpose of making an unjust gain. The Commission’s analysis highlights the most common examples of errors, such as contracts awarded without following the correct tender procedure; inadequate documentation to support expenditure (lack of audit trail); inaccurate calculation of overheads; application of incorrect co-financing rate; and, overestimated payment claims.
The Commission will continue its stringent audit work, along with the European Court of Auditors to further reduce the incidence of such errors. The proposed legislative package for cohesion policy form 2014-2020 will play a major part in this also through such features as the move to E-Cohesion (electronic data management) and conditions for a wider use of simplified costs.

The positive effects of the mobility of workers from Romania and Bulgaria on the European economy

Lundi 14 novembre 2011

The European Commission published a report highlighting the advantage of the mobility of workers from Romania and Bulgaria into the EU.

These workers have contributed to the skills mix as well as filling vacancies in sectors and jobs with labour shortages such as in construction and the domestic and food services sectors.

Estimates also show a positive impact of the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the EU’s long-term GDP with an increase by about 0.3% for EU-27 (0.4% for eu-15).

Studies show too that there has been no significant impact on unemployment or wages of local workers in receiving countries: in the EU-15 studies show wages are on average only 0.28% lower they would have been without mobility of the EU-2.

The report also highlights that there is no evidence of a disproportionate use of benefits by intra-EU mobile EU citizens and that the impact of recent flows on national public finances is negligible or positive.

The Commission report will serve as the basis on which the Council will carry out a review of how the transitional arrangements on free movement of Bulgarian and Romanian workers have worked in practice.

The EU has not forgotten its outermost regions

Mercredi 9 novembre 2011

The outermost regions (ORs) receive a special allowance for the programming of 2007-2013. In the midst of negotiations on the next legislative package on Cohesion Policy, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, visited Martinique in order to inform the Presidents of the ORs on the future of these regions in regional policy European.

Commissioner Hahn attended the Conference of Presidents of Ultra-peripheral Regions (chaired by Regional Council President Serge Letchimy) in Martinique (France) on 3 and 4 November and outlined the Commission’s recent cohesion policy 2014-2020 proposals.
The new legislative package takes account of the special circumstances of ultra-peripheral regions, as recognised in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):
- the specific allocation to compensate for additional costs due to their insularity is to be maintained;
- ultra-peripheral regions will continue to benefit from Community co-financing of up to 85%;
- they will also receive a larger envelope of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for territorial cooperation (up from EUR 150 million to 275 million).
The European Commission is in the process of planning a new strategy for the ultra-peripheral regions, to be adopted in 2012, which will make the most of their numerous advantages.
The European Union has 8 ultra-peripheral regions: five French overseas departments (Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Saint-Martin and Martinique), two Portuguese autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (Canary Islands).

The European Commission plans to pay 3.9 million euros to Italy as part of the European Globalisation Adjustment

Mercredi 2 novembre 2011

The European Commission wishes to allocate 3.9 million euros to Italy to help 528 laid-off workers in the provinces of Trento and Bolzano.

The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for their approval.

The Italian application relates to 643 redundancies in 323 small and medium sized enterprises operating in the construction of buildings sector in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

The dismissals were a consequence of the financial and economic crisis, which resulted in a substantial fall in demand for new houses and house renovation in this region where the construction sector is an important employer.

Of the total 643 workers made redundant, the 528 workers with the greatest difficulties of re-integration into the labour market are targeted for assistance from the EGF.

The package of EGF assistance will offer the workers one-to-one counselling and guidance; skills assessment and outplacement; coaching; general training and re-training; individual vocational training; mentoring after reintegration into work and participation and subsistence allowances.

The European Parliament is in favour of a growth-oriented budget for 2012

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

Growth, employment, innovation and development support are the key terms of the new EU budget for 2012, such as opted by the European Parliament.

In general, MEPs sought to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, which the Council cut in July. Parliament’s position implies an increase in payments of 5.2% as compared to this year’s budget, resulting in a budget of €133.1 billion. The budget resolution was adopted with 431 votes in favour, 120 against and 124 abstentions.

A 21-day conciliation period starts in November, with meetings foreseen on 8 and 18 November. Furthermore, there are budget trilogues foreseen on 3, 10 and 14 November. If Parliament and Council can agree, the final budget could be approved at the December session in Brussels.

Investments in R&D, cohesion and structural funds on track

The spending categories that see the biggest increases in payments are Research and Development (10.35%) and Cohesion and Structural funds (8.8%). This is because these policies in fact consist of long-term investment projects which now, in the fifth year of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF), are up to full speed and for which money committed earlier now needs to be paid out.

Another category that sees a significant increase is Freedom, Security and Justice (6.84%), due to growing needs to manage refugee and migration flows and step up maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean.

By contrast, in category 1A, “Competitiveness for growth and employment” and category 4, “the EU as a global player”, Parliament wants to spend only slightly more than the Commission originally proposed.

Several MEPs criticised the Council for inconsistencies in its position on the Commission’s Draft Budget. The budgets for the new European financial supervision bodies and Frontex are deemed insufficient for them to function properly, whereas their work is considered a top priority.

Research, innovation and education (heading 1A)

Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), who is steering the budget through Parliament, stressed that investments are needed to secure future growth and employment. Parliament followed her proposals to increase spending on programmes related to the EU2020 strategy

Parliament does not agree to funding the EU’s nuclear fusion programme ITER with money allocated for R&D under the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme, as the Commission and Council propose. As the idea for this mega-project was mooted during the current MFF period, MEPs feel it should be financed with fresh money, and not by funding taken from other research projects.

Cohesion policy (heading 1B)

On the policy for greater cohesion between the EU’s regions, MEPs restored the Commission’s draft budget proposal, which Member States had sought to cut.

Agriculture and environment (heading 2)

Parliament agreed to add €250 million to emergency funds for fruit and vegetable producers. This money is meant to prevent future crises like the EHEC-bacteria outbreak earlier this year and to compensate farmers for the financial consequences of further crises.

MEPs strongly defended the EU’s “food-for-the-needy” scheme, which provides food to food banks, for which Council is blocking a new legal basis.

Freedom, security, justice and citizenship (headings 3a and 3b)

Parliament disagreed with cuts proposed by the Council on the EU Refugee Fund, Return Fund and External Border Fund (€45 million). The budget for the EU border agency Frontex should be increased by a reserve of €25 million, they said, because this money might be needed for maritime border controls in the Mediterranean and for stepping up surveillance at the Greek-Turkish border. Just last month extra money was added to the 2011 budget for these purposes and MEPs feel that matters may not improve by the end of the year.

Foreign affairs (heading 4)

MEPs approved an increase of €100 million in aid to Palestine, the Middle East Peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). They also approved €27 million for the development co-operation instrument for Asia and Latin America, and added €3 million for election observation missions and €3 million for the Turkish-Cypriot Community. To fund this, MEPs cut other lines, such as the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan and the line for emergency measures under the common foreign and security policy (CFSP).

Administration (heading 5)

The rapporteur for the EP budget and those of the other institutions, Mr José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) proposed further cuts to Parliament’s budget. Parliament opted for a below-inflation increase of 1.44%, while doing significantly more with the money. The proposal now includes the accommodation of 18 extra MEPs as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. If these costs were excluded, the increase would amount to only 0.8%. To bring expenses down, MEPs intend to save money on translation and interpretation, by making organisational changes, and voted for a 5% cut in travel expenses, for example by reducing the number of business flights. All allowances will be frozen at 2011 levels.

A brand new Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

The Commission has published a news Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) based on the last one from 2006. It aims at creating a new platform CSR in the EU.

It aims to encourage companies to be involved even more in addressing employment and social issues within the Europe 2020 strategy, and is one means of securing an exit from the economic crisis.

The Commission firmly believes that if companies pay genuine attention to training, youth employment, dialogue with employee representatives, employee health and well-being, gender awareness, and diversity management they will be drivers of new commercial opportunities. This can only be good for reinforcement of the social market economy model, for the mitigation of recent job losses, and for the achievement of the 75% employment target.

With this new initiative, the Commission will continue to work closely with stakeholders, including companies, trade unions, and NGOs. It will pay particular attention to the international dimension of CSR, where attention to a living wage, good health and safety in the workplace, elimination of forced or child labour, freedom of association, and other decent work and human rights issues are key.

The Commission will also work on:

- Disclosure of non-financial information: improving transparency to highlight how companies’ focussing on social issues
- Rewarding and incentivising companies for responsible behaviour through public procurement and socially-responsible investing
- Encouraging CSR in education: motivating young people and extending responsibility values to the next generation of business managers.