9 Integration of the long-term unemployed
into the labour market |
||Legally and politically important|
|Committee's decision||Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Work and Pensions Committee
|Document details||Proposal for a Council Recommendation on the Integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market
|Legal base||Article 292 TFEU in conjunction with Article 149 TFEU; QMV
|Department||Work and Pensions
|Document Numbers||(37111), 10281/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 462
Summary and Committee's conclusions
9.1 Article 149 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union (TFEU) foresees incentive measures designed to support the
action of Member States in the field of employment. Such incentive
measures may according to Article 292 TFEU be
addressed to Member States in the form of a Recommendation from
the Council. Such a Recommendation is to be adopted by the Council
acting alone by a qualified majority.
9.2 Long-term unemployment (unemployment lasting
more than a year) across the European Union has doubled since
2007 and accounts for half of total unemployment. Reducing long-term
unemployment was one of the key challenges set out in the Commission's
Annual Growth Survey and Work Programme for 2015.
9.3 The Commission considers that Member States would
benefit from further support in helping those who are long-term
unemployed to return to work. It has proposed specific actions
to increase the rate of transition from long-term unemployment
9.4 At the heart of the draft Council Recommendation
is the suggestion that the long-term unemployed be made a specific
job integration agreement offer at the latest when they have reached
18 months of unemployment. Improved arrangements for registration
with an employment service are also proposed as is more personalised
guidance to those affected.
9.5 Member State officials should draw up monitoring
indicators, and guidelines for national evaluation and reporting.
The European Commission will evaluate action taken and report
to the Council within three years.
9.6 The Minister for Employment at the Department
for Work and Pensions (Priti Patel), indicates support for the
proposal but notes that minor changes to the provisions on monitoring
will be sought in order to make the text clearer and to ensure
that there is no added burden on the UK. Changes will also be
sought in order to remove any perceived prescriptiveness.
9.7 The proposed Recommendation is in an area
of policy over which the European Union may only support the work
of Member States. It does not therefore set out binding requirements
on Member States. Nevertheless, we consider it important that
the tone and detail of the text are appropriate. We note the Minister's
broad support for the proposal but that she will nevertheless
seek some changes to the text. We look to the Minister to provide
more detail on the nature of the proposed changes the Government
will be proposing, and an assessment of whether they are likely
to be accepted.
9.8 The Explanatory Memorandum indicates that
the ordinary legislative procedure whereby the European
Parliament and Council are jointly responsible for adopting the
legislation applies. We would welcome confirmation that,
in fact, Article 292 TFEU provides for the Council alone to adopt
a recommendation acting on a proposal from the Commission.
9.9 We will retain the proposal under scrutiny
and look forward to the requested information well in advance
of the December Council at which the Recommendation is expected
to be adopted. We draw the document to the attention of the Work
and Pensions Committee.
details of the document:
Proposal for a Council
Recommendation on the Integration of the long-term unemployed
into the labour market: (37111), 10281/15, COM (15) 462.
9.10 The long-term unemployed currently represent
5% of the EU's active population. The longer people remain out
of the labour market, the more difficult it is for them to be
hired again. Of the 12 million long-term unemployed in the EU,
more than 60% have already been out of work for two consecutive
years. Each year, one in five stops trying to find a job and becomes
inactive. This, the Commission concludes, implies a serious risk
of poverty and social exclusion for the unemployed and their families.
The Commission adds that addressing long-term unemployment would
contribute to sustainable growth and cohesion through higher employment
and it could also alleviate the burden on public finances through
lower social assistance spending and higher tax revenues.
9.11 Although they make up half of the unemployed,
only an estimated 20% of active labour market programmes are allocated
to long-term unemployed people and in many Member States they
do not have access to individualised services. Programmes offered
to long-term unemployed often do not sufficiently involve employers.
Only one third of Member States coordinate the action of their
employment and social services.
9.12 A number of measures are already in place at
are given within the framework of the European Semester, the annual
exercise of economic policy coordination;
· Up to
10% of the European Social Fund can be used to support long-term
unemployed people in the period 2014-20; and
European network of Public Employment services is cooperating
to exchange good practices.
9.13 Nevertheless, there is variable success among
Member States in helping the long-term unemployed to secure jobs.
The Commission takes the view that there is room for building
on successful practices from across the EU.
The Commission's proposal
9.14 The general objective of the proposed Recommendation
is to increase the transition rates to employment of the long-term
unemployed. The specific objectives are to:
coverage with higher registration and active support for the long-term
continuity and coordination between relevant services; and
the effectiveness of interventions aimed at both the long-term
unemployed and employers.
9.15 In addition to further engagement with employers,
three concrete steps are proposed:
registration with an employment service;
individual needs and potential of the long-term unemployed before
reaching 18 months of unemployment; and
a job integration agreement to the long-term unemployed at the
latest when they have reached 18 months of unemployment.
9.16 The job integration agreement should consist
of a tailor-made offer of intervention combining measures provided
by different organisations and spelling out mutual rights and
obligations. It would be offered to all long-term unemployed at
the latest when they have reached 18 months of unemployment.
9.17 A set of common monitoring indicators and guidelines
for national evaluations should be drawn up, including a reporting
mechanism. The Commission will evaluate the action taken in response
to the Recommendation and will report to the Council within three
years on the lessons learned.
The Minister's Explanatory Memorandum of 2 October
9.18 The Minister is supportive of the aims of the
Recommendation, as it acknowledges that long-term unemployment
remains a problem across the European Union and that support for
the long-term unemployed can be inconsistent depending on the
9.19 The Minister is content that the text respects
the balance between EU and Member State competence as set out
in the Treaty. Discussion of the proposal was expected at the
Employment Council on Monday 5 October, with adoption provisionally
scheduled for the Council's December meeting.
9.20 The Minister goes on to explain the Government's
approach in the following terms:
"Long-term unemployment in the UK has seen
quarterly falls each month for the past two years. The latest
data shows fewer than 546,000 people have been unemployed for
more than 12 months; this is the lowest since 2010. The UK long
term unemployment rate (1.9%) is currently less than half that
of the EU (4.8%).
"Given our experience in tackling long-term
unemployment, we have sought to share our knowledge and best practices
with the European Commission during the drafting process. This
is reflected in the draft recommendation as it closely resembles
UK policy in this area.
"There are, however, some minor issues for
which we already have some support. The recommendation expects
a new set of indicators to be set out for the purpose of monitoring
the initiative. Instead, the use of existing indicators will be
sought to ensure that there is no added burden to the UK. Minor
language changes to make the text clearer and to remove any perceived
prescriptiveness will be sought as well."
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