- shares concern about the impact of the global economic crisis on how the labour market is operating and broadly welcomes the Agenda for new skills: A European contribution towards full employment as an effort by the Commission to help increase employment and make labour markets more efficient; it calls on Member State governments to put the social dialogue and dialogue with organised civil society to good effect as they seek ways and means to improve the situation;
- regrets, however, that the proposed initiative fails to encapsulate the urgent need to create good-quality jobs and is not a sufficient stimulus to Member States to set more ambitious national goals backed by structural reforms and investment policies designed to secure real growth and new job opportunities;
- appreciates the fact that the agenda is rooted in the notion of flexicurity and underscores the need to strike the right balance between internal and external flexicurity in the interests of both a more efficient labour market and protection of workers; the Committee recommends that an analysis be made of the state of affairs at the outset and that the implementation of flexicurity polices continue to be monitored and evaluated, with the emphasis falling on the role of the social partners in this process, the aim of which should be to continue to facilitate reintegration and transition in the labour market;
- welcomes the bundling of education and employment policy in a single strategy document; nevertheless, it fails to detect a link between improving and updating skills and a growth in labour productivity;
- welcomes the Commission's endeavour to offer new instruments and initiatives, but recommends, nevertheless, that their linkage and synergies with existing instruments be strengthened; the EESC believes that the Commission – in looking into the role of non-binding instruments – must respect the mutual compatibility of policies and initiatives adopted at EU level; it also thinks that a coherent proposal to re-examine EU legislation in the social sphere should support rather than weaken the efforts of Member States to implement beneficial labour market reforms and promote social investment;
- recommends that the Commission take on board, when considering reopening discussion on the quality of jobs and working conditions, the mixed outcomes of the fifth EUROFOUND survey of working conditions in Europe;
- underscores the need to use European funds more effectively and joins the Commission in calling on the Member States to target the European Social Fund and other funds at the four basic goals listed in the Commission communication in order to help meet the Agenda objectives and national goals under the Europe 2020 strategy.