Strasbourg, 21.11.2023

COM(2023) 904 final

PROPOSAL FOR A JOINT EMPLOYMENT REPORT
FROM THE COMMISSION AND THE COUNCIL


Table of Contents

KEY MESSAGES    

CHAPTER 1. OVERVIEW OF LABOUR MARKET AND SOCIAL TRENDS, PROGRESS ON 2030 TARGETS, AND KEY HORIZONTAL FINDINGS ON SOCIAL CONVERGENCE    

1.1 Key labour market trends    

1.2 Key social trends    

1.3 Progress on the 2030 EU headline and national targets    

1.4 Update on the Social Scoreboard    

1.5 Key horizontal findings from the first-stage country analysis on social convergence    

CHAPTER 2. EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL REFORMS – MEMBER STATES’ PERFORMANCE AND ACTION    

2.1 Guideline 5: Boosting the demand for labour    

2.1.1 Key indicators    

2.1.2 Measures taken by Member States    

2.2. Guideline 6 – Enhancing labour supply and improving access to employment, skills and competences    

2.2.1 Key indicators    

2.2.2 Measures taken by Member States    

2.3 Guideline 7: Enhancing the functioning of labour markets and the effectiveness of social dialogue    

2.3.1    Key indicators    

2.3.2    Measures taken by Member States    

2.4: Guideline 8: Promoting equal opportunities for all, fostering social inclusion and fighting poverty    

2.4.1    Key indicators    

2.4.2    Measures taken by Member States    

CHAPTER 3. FIRST-STAGE COUNTRY ANALYSIS    

Belgium    

Bulgaria    

Czechia    

Denmark    

Germany    

Estonia    

Ireland    

Greece    

Spain    

France    

Croatia    

Italy    

Cyprus    

Latvia    

Lithuania    

Luxembourg    

Hungary    

Malta    

The Netherlands    

Austria    

Poland    

Portugal    

Romania    

Slovenia    

Slovakia    

Finland    

Sweden    



KEY MESSAGES

The Joint Employment Report (JER) by the European Commission and the Council monitors the employment situation in the Union and the implementation of the Employment Guidelines, in line with Article 148 of the TFEU. The report provides an annual overview of key employment and social developments in the Union and of Member States’ recent policy measures, in line with the Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States 1 . It also identifies related key priority areas for policy action. Chapter 1 of the report presents an overview of key employment and social trends and of progress made on the 2030 EU headline and national targets, as well as horizontal findings based on the principles of the Social Convergence Framework (SCF). Chapter 2 analyses challenges and policy responses in the Member States for each of the four employment guidelines. Chapter 3 provides country-specific analysis for all Member States in line with the principles of the SCF. Based on the Commission’s proposal, and following exchanges in the relevant Council advisory committees, the final text will be adopted by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council. Addressing the challenges identified in the report will contribute to achieving upward social convergence, strengthen the Union’s drive towards fair green and digital transitions and contribute to facing demographic change, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Union of Equality Strategies 2 .

The 2024 JER maintains a strong focus on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in line with the Action Plan of March 2021, welcomed by the EU Leaders at the Porto Social Summit. This is done notably via thematic boxes covering key challenges in the areas of equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion, in light of the socio-economic outlook and most recent policy initiatives. The report monitors progress towards the 2030 EU headline targets on employment, skills, and poverty reduction, also welcomed by the EU leaders in Porto, and by the June 2021 European Council. For the first time, this edition reports on progress towards the 2030 national targets put forward by the Member States, as presented and discussed in the June 2022 EPSCO Council.

Employment, skills and poverty reduction targets by 2030 are driving policy actions across the relevant policy domains at EU level and in the Member States. Solid employment growth, on average over the last two years, has put the EU well on track towards its headline employment target by 2030 (from the 2022 level of 74.6%, the employment rate needs to rise by another 3.4 pps in the EU until 2030 to reach the 78% target), although most recent quarterly data point to slower progress.

·Against the background of the post-COVID recovery and the good labour market developments, by 2022 all Member States had made progress towards their employment targets. For the large majority of them, further efforts in terms of employment and skills policies are needed until 2030 to reach their targets. In a significant number of Member States, the employment rates of the lower qualified harbour the largest scope for improvement, followed by the employment rates of older women (55-64) and young people (20-29) in a good number of countries.

·At the same time, significant progress is needed to reach the EU headline target of 60% of adults in learning every year in the EU by 2030, from a low level of 37.4% in 2016, in line with the ambition for Europe to remain competitive, innovative and inclusive, also in the context of the green and digital transformations.

·Finally, against the challenging socio-economic context over the past three years, and thanks to the decisive policy action at EU and Member States’ level, the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion remained broadly stable in the EU (a decrease by 279 000 in 2022). While the majority of Member States registered some progress towards their national poverty reduction targets since 2019, several others experienced changes in the opposite direction. Significant further efforts and continuous monitoring will therefore be needed to ensure that the set national ambitions are met in order to reach the EU headline target of at least 15 million fewer people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2030, in comparison with 2019.

Together with cohesion policy funds, the implementation of the reforms and investments in Member States’ recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) supports fair, inclusive and sustainable growth. Alongside the support provided to policy interventions in the respective policy areas by the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Just Transition Fund (JTF) and the Technical Support Instrument (TSI), the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) promotes the Union’s economic, social, and territorial cohesion by improving the resilience, crisis preparedness, adjustment capacity, and growth potential of the Member States, and fostering high quality employment creation through relevant reforms and investment. In this way, the Facility also contributes to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. 3  A total of around EUR 139.6 billion allocated to Member States contributes to social spending, which represents about 28% of the total estimated expenditure. 4  To date, the Commission has disbursed around EUR 175 billion under the RRF in both grants and loans as well as pre-financing. Of the 6266 milestones and targets included in the 27 RRPs, 2045 are expected to contribute to social policies. Of the 808 milestones and targets fulfilled as of 13 November, 243 foster social policies, corresponding to around 30% of the total number of fulfilled milestones and targets, and almost 12% of the milestones and targets linked to social policies included in the 27 RRPs. As part of the policy response analysis, the JER also includes a selection of measures supported by EU funding, notably the RRF, ESF+, ERDF, JTF and the TSI. All these will support growth and employment prospects as well as social and economic cohesion and resilience in the Union.

The 2024 JER has a stronger country-specific focus in line with the principles of the Social Convergence Framework (SCF), following discussions in the EPSCO Council of June 2022, as prepared by the Employment (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committees (SPC) 5 . Relying on existing tools (the Social Scoreboard and the agreed JER traffic-light methodology), Member States’ labour market, skills and social challenges are analysed in order to identify potential risks to upward social convergence that require deeper analysis in a second stage. In this sense, the country-specific analysis reinforces the monitoring of the employment, skills and social policy domains in the European Semester, in line with Art. 148 of the TFEU. The JER contains a first-stage country analysis, mostly based on the Social Scoreboard headline indicators. All in all, the first-stage analysis of the SCF points at:

I.Member States starting with relatively worse overall employment and unemployment outcomes having improved more substantially in 2022, which points at convergence on these dimensions;

II.potential risks to upward social convergence with regard to skills, despite the recent positive developments, which may pose employability challenges and raise inequalities unless policy action is significantly stepped up;

III.social outcomes that are broadly stable overall in 2022 despite the multiple crises, but that should be closely monitored in light of the high cost of living. 

More detailed second-stage analysis (using a wider set of quantitative and qualitative evidence, including on progress towards the 2030 national targets) will be conducted by the Commission services in relation to the countries for which potential risks to upward social convergence are identified in the first stage (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Spain, based on the analysis presented in this report).

Employment, skills and social challenges across EU Member States by headline indicators of the Social Scoreboard