Chapter 1: The European Employment Objective: How ‘Full’ can Full Employment Be?
Idleness even on an income corrupts; the feeling of not being wanted demoralises. (Lord Beveridge 1945, p. 19) The aim of this book is to review the conditions of full employment in Europe in the context of three megatrends: globalisation, individualisation and transnationalisation. At the Lisbon summit in March 2000, the chiefs of what were then the 15 member states of the European Union (EU) adopted the strategic goal for the next decade of becoming ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy . . . with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’ (Council of the European Union 2000, p. 2). In the subsequent revision of the Employment Guidelines in 2003, ‘full employment’ – long considered either an empty catch word or an unrealistic utopia – was reinvented and included as one of the three overarching goals of the European Employment Strategy (EES), which was launched in 1997. The two other goals were the commitments to raise the level of quality and productivity at work and to strengthen social and territorial cohesion. However, neither the European Commission nor the European Council deﬁned full employment explicitly. Implicitly, it was set as a target employment rate of 70 per cent on the average for all EU member states, including the ten countries that acceded to the EU in 2005 (often referred to as the new member states). It was understood that this ﬁgure was to be reached by 2010, but unemployment was even not mentioned as a target. In November 2004, a high-level group chaired...
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