Measures at European level are needed to guarantee efficient employment services all across Europe, argues the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in an opinion adopted today. Proposing actions to tackle long-term unemployment, the opinion drafted by Enrico Rossi (IT/PES), President of the Tuscany Region, also urges for strengthening demand for labour and suggests that EU structural funds could be used for this purpose.
While welcoming the European Commission proposal , which addresses the economic and social consequences of long-term unemployment and puts the emphasis on re-integrating unemployed people into the labour market, the CoR suggests European funding could be used to support employment services in countries worst hit by recession, provided that they implement necessary reforms.
"Public employment services need adequate financing so that they have the necessary resources and qualified staff to provide the personalised assistance that the long-term unemployed need", says Enrico Rossi, pointing out that "employment services, typically equipped to address just structural unemployment, also need to be able to respond rapidly to negative economic cycles". The CoR maintains that the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework could be an opportunity to address further needs arising as a result of cyclical crises.
Another key recommendation of the CoR opinion is the integrated use of EU structural funds, including through the Performance Reserve which could reward those Member States and regions that have been most successful in combatting long-term unemployment.
The report calls for the integration of measures relating to long-term unemployment and those relating to poverty, so that when the objective to reintegrate into the labour market is not met and unemployment benefits are reduced, the unemployed person is nevertheless given either subsidised employment or a minimum income in exchange of temporary community service work with a training dimension.
The CoR also calls on the European Commission to support Member States in their efforts to modernise social protection systems, with a view to establishing a complementary European unemployment insurance scheme. "What is really needed to tackle this issue is a set of policies and instruments driven by Europe, rather than just the individual countries", concludes rapporteur Rossi.