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15th Dec 2018

Social 'scoreboard' to feature in eurozone governance

  • A protest by the Indignados, an anti-austerity movement, in Brussels (Photo: M. Martin Vicente)

The European Commission has proposed strengthening the social side of its eurozone governance amid fears the EU is in several member states becoming a byword for austerity and joblessness.

In an ideas paper published Wednesday (2 October), social affairs commissioner Laszlo Andor said a scoreboard should be established to keep track of unemployment and social data in member states.

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This would help "detect trends" in joblessness, people at risk of poverty, young people in neither training or education, inequality, and household income at an early stage.

The scoreboard is to be integrated into the EU's budgetary cycle - the European semester - so that national policy recommendations made by Brussels would take this data into account.

"This should serve as an analytical tool, allowing for the better and earlier identification of major employment and social problems," says the commission.

The key indicators would focus on "employment and social trends that can severely undermine employment, social cohesion and human capital."

However, member states will not be forced to changed the policies in these areas if the scoreboard - due to be established in November - shows up failings.

There will be "no automatic consequences" from the scoreboard results but it should help policy-makers to "focus better," said Laszlo.

He acknowledged that "many would like to see more [ambition]" but pointed to the "limitation" of the EU treaties where social and employment policy is in the hands of member states.

Laszlo's paper also says the commission will come forward with a proposal by the end of the year to make it easier for people to seek and find jobs in other member states, amid low figures of just 4 percent cross-border mobility in the eurozone.

It will also present plans in 2014 on simplifying the granting of unemployment benefits for those looking for work in another member state.

The paper comes as the eurozone faces record unemployment rates as it continues to focus on austerity measures as a way out of the economic crisis.

The latest figures, for August 2013, show 19.2 million people are without jobs in the eurozone. Of these, 3.5 million (24 percent) are young people. The figures are starkest in Greece, where 63 percent of young people have no work.

The high figures as well as the length of time that people are unemployed has led to references to Europe's "lost generation" and warnings that the EU is being viewed as part of the problem rather than the solution.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz called Wednesday's proposals "well-meaning" but said they were "not ambitious enough."

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said it "deplores" the fact that the social indicators do not have "a real and binding impact on economic policies."

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