EU reaches out to promote flexicurity approach in the Member States

The European Commission today launched an initiative to help put the EU’s flexicurity approach – balancing flexibility in the job market with employment security for workers – into practice at national level

This ‘Mission for Flexicurity’ aims to reach out to workers, employers and others through a series of country visits over the next two months. The initiative follows a decision by Member States at the Informal Employment Council in Brdo in January 2008. It will kick off in France today, followed by events in Sweden, Finland, Poland and Spain. Results will be presented in December 2008.

The Mission for Flexicurity aims to raise awareness and understanding of the common principles of flexicurity agreed on at the EU Summit in December 2007 following a Commission Communication in June 2007, so as to aid their implementation in the Member States. The Mission will be led by Commissioner Špidla and Gérard Larcher, former French labour minister. It consists of seven members, including workers’ and employers’ representatives; the Slovene EU presidency; the forthcoming French presidency; and the Commission.

The team will visit five countries to discuss the state of play in implementing the flexicurity principles with all relevant stakeholders. The following Member States have volunteered to receive the Mission between May and July 2008: France (19 May); Sweden (2 June); Finland (6 June); Poland (23 June); Spain (date to be confirmed).

As part of a mutual learning perspective, these visits will also give the opportunity to other Member States, as well as to other relevant participants, to take part in the discussions. The timetable and progress reports following the country visits will appear on a dedicated Commission website.

The work of the Mission should help Member States to report as part of their National Reform Programmes in Autumn 2008 on national implementation of the flexicurity principles (so-called national ‘pathways’). To that end, the Mission will present a draft report in October 2008 to Employment Ministers followed by a final Report in December 2008, after having consulted the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the social partners and other stakeholders. This report will highlight the various policy approaches in the Member States and aim at proposing concrete suggestions to encourage the successful implementation of flexicurity policies.

What is flexicurity?

Flexicurity is a comprehensive approach to labour market policy which combines sufficient flexibility in contractual arrangements – to allow firms and employees to cope with change - with the provision of security for workers to stay in their job, or be able to find a new one quickly with the assurance of an adequate income in between jobs. This is possible through lifelong learning, active labour market policies and high levels of social protection.

In today’s labour markets, traditional kinds of job security are not always sustainable and do not always constitute the right solution; people change jobs more often, sometimes because they want to and sometimes because they have to. In this context, new kinds of security are needed, so that workers can change from one job to another job in a safe and successful way, and acquire new skills. Similarly, the different national contractual arrangements should ensure that companies can adapt to changing market circumstances, and that they are not inhibited from offering permanent employment because of the difficulties they might face should circumstances change and a workforce reduction be considered.

Press room - European Commission
  More information:
Mission for flexicurity website

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