Public employment services have a vital role to play in achieving the Europe 2020 goals related to employment. They have to meet new labour market demands, combine short-term measures with sustainable solutions and anticipate social risks.
Against this background, the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal to establish a European Network of Public Employment Services (PES). This would provide a platform for comparing their performance at European level, identify good practices and foster mutual learning in order to strengthen service capacity and efficiency. Its prime role should be to advise and coordinate.
The Committee asks that the Network's links with the Employment Committee (EMCO) are specified. It also recommends to the Commission and the Member States, with due respect for subsidiarity and diversity across the EU, to establish a more coherent relationship between PES and regional observatories.
More specifically, the EESC considers that the PES needs to become multifunctional agencies facilitating a range of transitions in the EU labour market: from studies to first-time employment, and from one career to another.
PES' new competences, particularly in the area of active employment policies, must be reflected in appropriate capacities and financial support.
The Committee deems it also important to put in place benchmarking systems for public employment services, based on quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess PES performance. Nevertheless, the EESC stresses that the result of this should be to make workers more adaptable and ready for a sustainable return to the labour market and ensure their smooth transition into it.
The EESC recommends that the text of the Decision lists the general framework's key indicators. Delegated acts, for their part, should complement these key indicators in less important areas.
Finally the EESC points out that social partners are the main labour market stakeholders and they have a pivotal role in PES modernisation. A stronger voice should be given to them and the role of civil society should be addressed in line with the partnership principle.