The economic situation across the European Union will dominate discussions between employment ministers of the 27 member states in Luxembourg next week (4 October), when they hold their first meeting since the summer.
As part of the European Semester – the yearly cycle of economic policy co-ordination overseen by the European Commission – the ministers will debate how the financial crisis has affected employment levels in member states. Responsibility for creating jobs and ensuring social inclusion remains with national governments, but the Commission wants ideas and policies to be shared across the EU.
Next week's discussions will pick up from a debate at the last meeting of employment ministers, in June, when they approved employment-related aspects of the country-specific recommendations – the proposals made for each EU member state by the Commission after scrutinising national budget plans.
Ministers will debate how the EU can help boost job creation, and what governments can do to tackle unemployment among young people and disadvantaged groups, to combat labour- market segmentation, and to improve education and training.
More than a fifth of people under 25 are out of work in the EU. In Greece and Spain the levels currently stand at 53.8% and 52.9% respectively.
Ministers will also debate pensions, wage policies and labour costs, in the wake of broader discussions by finance ministers – although few significant conclusions are likely since some countries have already signalled their reluctance to yield to calls from the Commission and other member states for labour-market reforms and higher retirement ages.
The meeting of employment ministers will also be the first since the Commission announced on 11 September that it was scrapping its proposal for legislation on the right to strike because it was judged unlikely to win the unanimous backing of member states.
Ministers are expected to reach agreement in principle on an update to the directive on electro-magnetic fields, to avoid unduly limiting the use of MRI scanners in hospitals.