ETUC position on the proposed Employment Guidelines revision

Brussels 13/03/2018

ETUC position on the proposed Employment Guidelines revision

The Commission has published a proposed revision to the Employment Guidelines. This is to be adopted at the June 2018 EPSCO Council.

EU Employment Guidelines form, together with the Economic Guidelines, the so-called Integrated Guidelines for pursuing the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Within this framework the integrated guidelines are agreed in order to “support the achievement of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and the aims of the European Semester of economic policy coordination.”

The Employment Guidelines can be adapted each year but have, in reality, remained constant since a 2015 revision. The current revision is explicitly designed to reflect the November 2017 proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), which the ETUC played a leading role in negotiating.

The ETUC welcomes the intention of revising the guidelines to reflect the important achievements contained within the EPSR. However, these achievements are not always accurately reflected in the proposal put forward – see the attached annex for a more detailed assessment.

Furthermore, the ETUC reminds the Commission that it adopted in December 2017 a definition of quality jobs, addressing the following criteria, which should be taken into account while revising the Employment guidelines[1]:

  • Good wages
  • Work security via standard employment and access to social protection
  • Lifelong learning opportunities
  • Good working conditions in safe and healthy workplaces
  • Reasonable working time with good work-life balance
  • Trade union representation and bargaining rights

Unfortunately, the revised Employment Guidelines are very weak on work quality which is a missed opportunity if it goes unamended. A commitment to boosting work quality can have profound implications for economic growth and social progress.

For the ETUC, full employment in economies rich with high quality employment opportunities must be the aim of the Employment Guidelines. Yet the proposal fails to adequately move on this direction and fails to move beyond the discredited ‘flexicurity’ narrative. This is in direct conflict with the proclaimed EPSR (see annex).

There are some positive developments in the revision – most notably around access to employment training and skills. Yet even here the ETUC wants to see more ambition if Europe is to be best placed to face the challenges of the future. In a context of technological, environmental and demographic change, a broad knowledge-oriented will be best-placed to adapt to the rapid changes confronting work and workers. Reskilling and preparing for new industry will simply not happen without a huge push by empowered social partners.

The ETUC will continue to push for improvements in employment policy and making the case that a more positive and ambitious vision is needed for European labour markets that goes beyond flexicurity and precarious work.

In particular, the ETUC has already:

  • raised our concerns informally with the Commission that the flexicurity wording of Guideline 7 is in direct contrast to what was agreed in the EPSR.
  • raised the point with the Chair of the Employment Committee (EMCO) of the EPSCO Council.
  • made the case to the rapporteur of the draft report on the Employment Guidelines in the Employment Committee (EMPL) of the European Parliament.
  • raised the problem at the February 2018 Social Dialogue Committee.

The ETUC requests that national affiliates lobby their ministries strongly to amend the Guidelines ahead of the June EPSCO Council. The technical committee EMCO is currently working on this and the ETUC secretariat can provide you with a list of the committee’s members. The annex below provides more detail to assist in this process.


Adopted 08.03.2018