In this opinion, the EESC welcomes the proposed revised employment guidelines and acknowledges their role to serve as a long-term compass for the employment policies of EU Member States. The Committee considers that the EU and its Member States must make further efforts to eliminate disparities and improve convergence.
In the current context of Covid-19, the EESC finds that more is needed in terms of coordinated action. Only a comprehensive European economic recovery plan would allow to best face the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and rebuild a more sustainable and resilient European economy. The Committee asks the Employment Guidelines for 2020 to contain an additional and extraordinary/emergency employment guideline in order to guide necessary adaptions of employment policies in the EU Member States.
As regards Guideline 5, the EESC considers that the employment guidelines should seek to translate the trends associated with new forms of work into fair employment opportunities. The call for setting up adequate and fair wages, either through improving statutory minimum wages mechanisms where they exist or through collective bargaining, should be welcomed. The involvement of social partners is key. The guideline should in this respect include in the very end proposals to strengthen the effectiveness of collective agreements by enhancing their coverage.
Regarding Guideline 6, the EESC calls for more effective European and national strategies on ensuring sustainable financing for reskilling and up-skilling of all adults through life-long learning focusing in particular on providing effective support to workers and the unemployed.
Regarding Guideline 7, the EESC believes that more needs to be done to facilitate and promote social dialogue, both at national and European level. Advances have been made in the involvement of civil society in the European Semester process, and it should be built upon. The EESC considers that this guideline should also include the need for a better occupational safety and health. In the current context of Covid-19, public authorities, businesses, employees and social partners must all play a role in order to protect workers, their families and society at large. Small and micro enterprises should be provided with practical, financial and tailored support for occupational safety and health (OSH) programmes for them to adapt workplaces, and to quickly implement new procedures and practices to protect workers.
Concerning Guideline 8, the Committee recalls that discrimination must be fought. Social protection and health care must be provided to all. Promotion of women's participation in the labour force, as well as active ageing for all, should be supported. The employment guidelines should also consider social protection objectives like full and effective coverage, adequacy and transparency.