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Annual Review of Europe’s Employment and Social Developments Reveal Huge Disparities Between Member States

The European Commission released today (January 21, 2016) its 2015 Employment and Social Developments review, which bears the subtitle “Investing in people is key to economic growth.”
The Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review “is an annual review of the latest employment and social trends, reflecting on upcoming challenges and possible policy responses.”
According to this year’s review, there have been “positive employment and social developments in the EU,” but “huge disparities still exist between Member States, in terms of economic growth, employment and other key social and labor market indicators.”
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, noted the following: “We need to ensure that there are more and better opportunities for people in the EU, especially those furthest away from the labor market. We must also invest in enhancing people’s skills, so that all women and men in the EU can realize their full potential. We need to invest in people to achieve growth and jobs. We need to ensure that our labor law and social protection systems are fit-for-purpose in the 21st century, and we need to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. The European Pillar of Social Rights will play an important role in this context.”
Europe’s biggest unemployment problem is that of long-term unemployment (people who have been unemployed for longer than two years) as it affects 11.4 million people in the EU.
In countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, the unemployment rates are not only much higher than they are in central and northern European countries but they are at socially unacceptable levels. In Greece, for example, the official unemployment rate is close to 25% (it had reached as high as 27% in early 2014) and remains in double digits for virtually all of the southern European countries.
Even in Ireland, which is regarded as a bailout “success story,” unemployment is slightly less than 10% in spite of the fact that the country had as of 2013 the highest net emigration level in Europe.
Greece is the country with the highest unemployment rate in the EU, the situation remains almost hopeless as long as austerity continues to alter the way the Greek government leads its citizens out of economic downturn. No Greek government is capable of addressing the problem of unemployment without EU support, which in this case means nothing short of the social reorganization of the economy.
In this context, Syriza’s ill conceived schemes of dealing with the problem of unemployment simply recycle unemployment and add insult to injury. For instance, programs like those advocated by Rania Antonopoulou, Deputy Labor Minister, responsible for unemployment have failed dismally to combat unemployment in Greece, but add fat to the public administrative sector by hiring among the party faithful.

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