Parliamentary Watch: Tackling age discrimination in guidelines for Member States’ employment policies

The European employment strategy (ESS) was introduced in 1992 by the Treaty of the European Union and since then has been the cornerstone of the EU’s employment policy. Its main aim is the creation of more and better jobs throughout the EU. It now constitutes part of the Europe 2020 growth strategy and it is implemented through the European semester. One of the implementation steps of the EES is the adoption of employment guidelines, i.e. common priorities and targets for employment policies. They are proposed by the Commission, agreed by national governments and adopted by the EU Council. The European Parliament adopted its position on the guidelines on 8 July 2015.

What is there for older workers?

While the Council asked to reduce barriers to labour market participation, especially for women, older workers, young people, the disabled and legal migrants, the Parliament expressly referred to the need to reduce discrimination on the labour market and in access to labour market. This makes the text much stronger and clearer, notably on age discrimination. MEPs also added the need to prevent the exclusion of workers with breaks in their career due to family responsibilities, such as informal care.

Moreover, the Parliament called on Member States to implement active ageing strategies to enable healthy working up to the real retirement age.  On retirement, the Council suggested to link statutory retirement ages to life expectancy, increase effective retirement ages and develop complementary retirement savings. MEPs amended these proposals to recall the importance of the 3 pillars and that reforms of the pension systems should also reflect labour market trends, birth rate, demographic situation, health and wealth situation, working conditions and the economic dependency ratio. They concluding by adding that the best way to tackle ageing is to increase the overall employment rate, building on social investments in active ageing.

Read the full report here.

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