27th Jun 2019

More Europeans need to work, IMF says

A lack of participation in the workforce is Europe’s biggest obstacle to economic growth, an International Monetary Fund official said Thursday (21 April).

Europe needs to focus on bringing young people, people over 50 years old and women into the workforce, the IMF’s deputy director of research, David Robinson, said at the Brussels Economic Forum.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • High investment in childcare ensures high employment participation (Photo: European Commission)

"The key to progress is at the national level," Mr Robinson said.

With fewer working hours due to shorter workweeks combined with more holiday time in comparison with US workers, some of the reasons why Europeans have only 70 per cent GDP per capita versus the US are clear.

Economists and policy makers representing countries and organisations from all over the world are participating in the two-day forum in an effort to find ways of boosting economic growth in the EU.

The consensus Thursday was more investment in education and research and development are needed to help bridge the economic gap and prepare the economy for a future of ever-ageing citizens supported by fewer workers.

The road to Lisbon

The so-called "Lisbon Agenda" development goals form the basis for the policy ideas that EU leaders believe can strengthen the economy. The policy goals set in 2000 are meant to make the EU the most competitive economy in the world by 2010.

Former Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said that if each Member State invests an additional one per cent in each area covered by the Lisbon Agenda over the next four years, the EU will find itself much better off economically.

He pointed to Denmark and Scandinavia where childcare costs are subsidised by the governments.

"High investment in childcare ensures high employment participation and helps the age problem" by allowing people to have children and balance it with work life," said Mr Rasmussen.

European companies are far behind their US counterparts in terms of research, development and innovation, something which the Commission is pushing hard for Member States to improve as part of the Lisbon Agenda.

The more research and innovation, the more competitive European companies will become in the global marketplace, said Commission vice president Gunter Verheugen.

"We can not compete with China on lower wages…so we must be better, not necessarily cheaper …we can not have the best product if we don’t invest in research and development", said Mr Verheugen.

As more unskilled labour jobs are outsourced to countries outside the EU where labour is cheaper, the market for skilled jobs will increase, many of the speakers said, so it is time for Europeans to prepare now to take the skilled jobs of the future.

Every step of education past primary level is one more step away from future unemployment, figures presented by John Fitz Gerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin showed.

"It’s not just about increasing unskilled jobs but it is better to increase education so to lower the supply of unskilled labour," said Mr Fitz Gerald.

EU top court backs Canada trade deal in ruling

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and its controversial dispute settlement mechanism, is in line with the bloc's rules.

EU and Japan in delicate trade talks

The Japanese PM comes to Brussels to discuss the first results of the new EU-Japan free trade deal, plus WTO reform - a sensitive topic before he moves onto Washington to face Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU warns Turkey as 'Gezi Park' trials begin
  2. EU universities to share students, curricula
  3. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  4. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  5. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  6. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  7. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  8. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'


Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us