Employment and Social Affairs

Employment and social policy priorities of the Czech Republic

During its Presidency, the Czech Republic will focus on four basic themes in the field of employment and social policy.

1. Free movement of workers

The free movement of workers is one of the top priorities of the Czech EU Presidency. It is completely in tune with the Czech Presidency’s motto ‘A Europe Without Barriers’. The Czech Republic identifies the full use of workforce potential and greater flexibility of the EU labour market as key instruments in enhancing the EU’s competitiveness. Therefore, the primary objective of the Czech Presidency is to highlight the benefits of the greatest possible liberalisation of the free movement of workers within the EU, as well as the increase in professional and geographical mobility of labour on the labour market, in order to enhance the EU’s competitiveness in the global economy. The Czech Republic has selected labour mobility as the major theme of the informal EPSCO Council meeting to be held in Luhačovice in January 2009. The Presidency will follow this line when drafting the EPSCO Council conclusions on the Commission’s report on the impact of free movement of workers following EU enlargement.
The Presidency will focus on measures to suppress undeclared work, and will foster awareness of the possibilities and advantages of mobility within the EU and the exchange of examples of best practice in the removal of language barriers. At the same time the Presidency will tackle the issue of recognition of previous experience for the purposes of further career growth. The Presidency will emphasise the negative effects of the existing transitional measures concerning the free movement of workers when preparing the spring meeting of the European Council.

2. Increasing employment and the flexibility of the labour market through flexicurity guidelines

Making full use of the EU’s workforce potential and making the EU’s labour market more flexible represent key tools in increasing the EU’s competitiveness. Therefore, the Czech Presidency will promote the implementation of the Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (the European Employment Strategy) and flexicurity guidelines (a balance between a flexible labour market and social security, designed to motivate citizens to be more active). The Presidency will also seek a compromise within the conciliation procedure with the European Parliament concerning the Working Time Directive. When preparing the key messages of the EPSCO Council, the Presidency will point out that even at the time of global financial crisis the EU should not abandon the long-term goals of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. In discussions about the Lisbon Strategy after 2010 the Presidency will also tackle the issue of modernising labour law.

In the area of employment, the Presidency will give priority to: increasing labour market flexibility and the flexibility of labour relations and social services based on the principle of ‘making work pay’; strengthening motivation for reintegrating into the labour market; improving the quality of human resources through adult training using the strategies of lifelong learning; motivating employers and workers to invest in education; and supporting the link between education/training aspects and social protection provided to workers during labour market transition. In this respect, the Presidency will place an emphasis on preventing abuse of social protection. To introduce an in-depth discussion about this issue, the Presidency will organise a conference entitled ‘Flexicurity –Lifelong Learning and Social Protection Components’. It is in this context that the Presidency plans to prepare the conclusions of the EPSCO Council concerning the Commission’s communication entitled ‘New Skills for New Jobs’, and the conclusions of the Council on fulfilling the principles of flexicurity with an emphasis on the importance of training during labour market transition.

3. Horizontal support for families in the context of EU policies

The Czech Presidency is committed to enhancing the prestige of parenthood, balancing adequate appreciation of childcare and housework in relation to employment and developing innovative forms for the reconciliation of work, family and personal life. The Czech Republic is keen to underline and appreciate the perception of each individual not just as a member of the workforce, but also as a parent investing time, energy and money in the care and upbringing of children – future human capital. Therefore, in the preparations for future legislative and coordination steps in the field of policies relating to the reconciliation of family and working life, the Czech Republic is working towards ensuring that innovative childcare services are supported on an individual basis and that parental domestic care for young children is viewed as a fully-fledged, socially relevant alternative to an occupational activity. This issue will be the theme of a Presidency conference entitled ‘Parental Childcare and Employment Policy’. The Presidency takes the view that promoting the employment of parents, especially women, through the development of childcare services cannot be seen as the grounds for underestimating the role of parents in early childcare. The key criterion in shaping policies for reconciliation of work and family life will be the best interest of the child. Therefore, during the informal meeting of ministers for family policy, the Presidency will propose to open a discussion on a possible revision of the Barcelona goals in the field of family policy.

4. Social services as a tool for active social inclusion of the most disadvantaged persons and as an employment opportunity

In discussions about social services the Presidency will focus on social services as a tool for preventing social exclusion, a tool for active social inclusion of the most vulnerable persons and, at the same time, as a sphere of growing employment opportunities (given the demographic trends in the EU) and a process of strengthening the network of such services provided in a natural social environment. The Presidency will place an emphasis on the availability of social services in terms of location, money and type. In the area of active social inclusion policy, the Presidency will promote a combination of policies on labour market integration, workforce mobility, motivation to find a job, support of adequate income and high-quality, available and efficient social services. To discuss social inclusion issues, the Presidency will hold a conference entitled ‘Social Services – A Tool for Mobilising the Workforce and Strengthening Social Cohesion’, and will propose to adopt the conclusions of the EPSCO Council. Attention will also be paid to the issue of improving the quality, availability and funding of long-term care, the protection of dignity and rights of persons dependent on care and the support for active, healthy and dignified ageing.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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