Monday

4th Mar 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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 supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it

Member states failed on Wednesday to agree to the EU's long-awaited Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive, after 13 EU ambassadors declared abstention and one, Sweden, expressed opposition (there was no formal vote), EUobserver has learned.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain

The €723bn Covid-19 recovery fund, launched three years ago, has been a success, according to a mid-term internal review — but less effective than initially predicted. And according to one NGO, the commission painted an "overly positive picture".

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us