There is, despite progress in some areas, still a long way to go to meet the ambitious Lisbon
employment objectives. Against this background the EESC calls for greater prominence to be given to the following points in the context of national social and employment policies aimed at the priority groups referred to in this opinion in the labour market:
- measures to promote the integration of young people into the labour market;
- greater efforts to combat the many continuing forms of discrimination on grounds of age, gender, disability or ethnic background;
- increasing employment security and preventing "insecure employment traps;
- measures to improve the quality of jobs;
- investment in initial and further education and lifelong learning;
- measures to modernise and improve, wherever necessary, the social safeguards attached to nonstandard forms of employment;
- reducing the gender-specific segmentation of the labour market;
- dismantling obstacles facing people with care obligations when (re-)entering the labour market and seeking to remain in employment (and incentives for greater participation of fathers in care responsibilities).
In several of the areas discussed in this opinion more priorities need to be set and policy needs to be spelt out more clearly. The EESC therefore:
- advocates more binding objectives at European level. The Commission should play a greater role in monitoring the implementation of the employment strategy in the Member States;
- calls for further improvements to the objectives, particularly for youth employment and in order to combat youth unemployment, promotion of equality, support for people with disabilities and the integration of immigrants;
- would like to see the national reform programmes becoming more ambitious in future. In this connection the EESC proposes that ways be investigated of laying down specific objectives for the earmarking of appropriate budgetary resources for active labour-market policy in the individual Member States.