On the 6th of March, EUD attended the Strategic Dialogue meeting on the European Semester organised by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission (EC). The event focused on the Country Reports, which are part of the European Semester and analyse the overall situation of economic policies as well as the economic and social hurdles of the Member States.
The meeting was moderated by Jeroen Jutte, Head of Unit Employment and Social Aspects of the European Semester at the EC, who explained the European Semester and its relevance for the economic policies in the Member States of the European Union. He took the opportunity to present to the audience the indicators of the macroeconomic imbalances listed in the Country Reports.
Mr Jutte presented an overall state of the European economy and confirmed its current satisfactory shape in that it will be in its seventh consecutive year of growth. In the field of the labour force, there is a record level of employment (240 million Europeans employed) while at the same time, we have witnessed low levels of unemployment as indicated by the unemployment rate of 6,6%. Statistically, the number of persons experiencing poverty and social exclusion declined in 2017.
Even the numbers prove an overall improvement, social dialogue between the civil society organisations and the governments remains essential as many social issues still exist in Member States.
In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EC established a tool called the Social Scoreboard. It assesses progress on employment and social achievements in Europe through the set of indicators. Nevertheless, the assessment is not comprehensive or sufficient enough for people with disabilities. The Social Scoreboard does not have an indicator on disability therefore it is impossible to measure the progress of implementation of the Social Pillar for people with disabilities.
Throughout the discussions it was also highlighted that young people still have a hard time finding job opportunities in some countries, and the population is gradually increasing in age. Moreover, technological changes are factors that can have consequences on the persistently segmented labour market. This is why there is a need to promote the development of adequate skills and make investments towards increasing the sustainability of the economy.
At the end of the presentation, Mr Jutte moderated exchanges from the audience on organisational points as well as the policies related to social area. For instance, it was highlighted that there is a need for higher-quality indicators in order to improve the outcomes as there are no, or not enough, qualitative assessments being performed. The discussions took place regarding the need for disaggregated data on employment, especially information about employment of persons with disabilities.
EUD will follow up on the process and expect to see the Commissions’ proposal for 2019 country specific recommendations that will be communicated following the EU elections. The next strategic dialogue will take place in late-June.