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Will the European Union achieve its 75% rate of employment target by 2020? 

Following the alarming unemployment rate in the European Union (EU), the European Commission set out a strategic plan for 2014-2020 through the DG Employment, social affairs and inclusion (EMPL) targeting to reach at least 75% of employment rate by 2020 for people aged between 20 to 64.


The EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) is one of the main EU funding instruments acting as a key factor towards this target achievement. The EaSI programme is based on three axes: Progress axis, EURES axis, and Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis amounting to a total budget of €919.4 million for 2014-2020. Among the objectives of the EaSI, the promotion of a high level of quality and sustainable employment and the combat of long-term unemployment reside in the first axis. This axis has a budget line of €42.2 million for the year 2019.

Several calls for proposals linked to employment are currently open. The budget and co-financing rate depend mostly on calls. The following example of an ongoing call on the Progress axis can be taken: “Posting of workers: enhancing administrative cooperation and access to information”. The said call has a budget of €3 million with a co-financing rate going up till 80%. Eligible applicants are international organisations, non-profit organisations, research centres, civil society organisations etc.  

Towards the achievement of EU’s objectives?
On the one hand, an undeniable progress has been achieved by the EU in the employment sector. The EU seems to be going the right direction in the attainment of its 75% target for the rate of employment. In its work programme 2019, it is highlighted that the 238 million currently employed people is a record level for the EU. Following the European Labor Force Survey, EUROSTAT published a report on the 25th April 2019 whereby a new peak at 73.2% has been reached. As per the same report, 13 Member States have already achieved their 2020 targets, that is above 75% of employment rate.

However, on the other hand, it is clear that reaching 75% by 2020, despite the encouraging statistics, will be difficult. The employment rate in 2017 was at 72,2% and at 73,2% in 2018, hence, a rise of +1%. Will the EU be able to take the challenge of +1,8% with the deadline approaching at fast pace and with only nearly half of the Member States at +75%? Furthermore, employment rates vary form one Member State to another, with Greece lagging behind at -21%.  

Shouldn’t the EU have a country-based approach as well in terms of employment?

Hickmah Tagaully

* The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines the employment rate as the employment-to-population ratio. This is a statistical ratio that measures the proportion of the country’s working age population.  


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