In June, the European Commission issued its 2019 country-specific recommendations (CSRs), setting out its economic & social policy guidance for Member States for the next 12 to 18 months. The recommendations encourage the 28 EU countries to respond adequately to persisting and new economic and social challenges and to deliver on their shared key policy objectives, while pushing for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The content of the recommendations reflects the overall priorities set out in the Annual Growth Survey 2019 and the 2019 recommendation on the economic policy for the euro area issued in November. They draw on the detailed analysis of the country reports published in February this year and the assessment of the national programmes presented in April. The recommendations also aim to advance social convergence across countries, using the European Pillar of Social Rights as a compass.
There are indeed various references in the CSRs to the needs of families not being met; the need to boost investment in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and long-term care; the current design of service provision and family-related leaves not being sufficiently in line with equal opportunities for men and women on the labour market; the need to support independent living through labour market integration of vulnerable groups; improving the inclusiveness of education systems; and various recommendations on the need to boost investment in support services to families to help them reconcile work and family life.
Some examples include:
“Shift taxes away from labour to sources less detrimental to inclusive and sustainable growth. Support full-time employment among women, including by improving childcare services, and boost labour market outcomes for the low skilled in continued cooperation with the social partners. Raise the levels of basic skills for disadvantaged groups, including people with a migrant background.”
“Remove disincentives to work and strengthen the effectiveness of active labour market policies, in particular for the low-skilled, older workers and people with a migrant background. Improve the performance and inclusiveness of the education and training systems and address skills mismatches.”
“Foster the employment of women with young children, including by improving access to affordable childcare, and of disadvantaged groups. Increase the quality and inclusiveness of the education and training systems, including by fostering technical and digital skills and promoting the teaching profession.”
“Foster labour market integration for all job seekers, ensure equal opportunities with a particular focus on vulnerable groups including people with a migrant background and address skills shortages and mismatches.”
“Step up efforts to tackle undeclared work. Ensure that active labour market and social policies are effectively integrated and reach out notably to young people and vulnerable groups. Support women’s participation in the labour market through a comprehensive strategy, including through access to quality childcare and long-term care. Improve educational outcomes, also through adequate and targeted investment, and foster upskilling, including by strengthening digital skills.”
“Continue the labour market integration of the most vulnerable groups in particular by upskilling, and improve the adequacy of social assistance and unemployment benefits. Improve education outcomes and increase the participation of disadvantaged groups, in particular Roma in quality mainstream education. Improve health outcomes by supporting preventive health measures and strengthening primary health care.”
“Ensure the adequacy of future pension benefits and the sustainability of the pension system by taking measures to increase the effective retirement age and by reforming the preferential pension schemes. Take steps to increase labour market participation, including by improving access to childcare and long-term care, and remove remaining obstacles to more permanent types of employment. Foster quality education and skills relevant to the labour market, especially through adult learning.”
“Ensure that employment and social services have the capacity to provide effective support. Foster transitions towards open-ended contracts, including by simplifying the system of hiring incentives. Improve support for families and address coverage gaps in national unemployment assistance and regional minimum income schemes. Reduce early school leaving and improve educational outcomes, taking into account regional disparities. Increase cooperation between education and businesses with a view to improving the provision of labour market relevant skills and qualifications, in particular for information and communication technologies.”
These CSRs were further discussed at the 13th June EPSCO Council and a few were amended – the final CSRs are available here following adoption by the ECOFIN Council.
We invite COFACE members and partners to consult the CSRs for their country, and to link up with the European Commission representations in their country, to bring their voice and latest data about the needs and challenges of families today to the EU Semester discussions at national level.