Working conditions have been growing worse and poverty rising since the start of the crisis, concludes the European Commission in a report on social developments in Europe, published on 15 December 2011. It recommends an approach that represents a mix of economic, social and employment policies.
This first Annual review of employment and social developments in Europe' (ESDE) notes that the economic crisis has aggravated Europe's structural weaknesses, such as income inequality and the disappearance of jobs with medium-level salaries, particularly in the manufacturing and construction industries. It makes recommendations aimed at ensuring a long-term job-rich recovery in the current climate of fiscal consolidation and grim economic outlook.
TAXING HIGH INCOMES
To lessen inequalities, the report proposes increasing labour market participation, a better distribution of social spending and fairer taxation of high incomes and wealth. It also recommends a combination of the discouragement of early retirement for older workers, adaptation of working conditions and lifelong training to keep people on the job longer. Commissioner Laszlo Andor (employment and social affairs) commented: "What we see is that nearly all social challenges have a strong labour market dimension, like in-work poverty, and social policy can help shape employment outcomes, for example through active ageing. To respond to Europe's economic crisis effectively and to restore growth, we have to address the economic, employment and social dimensions of this crisis together". He added that, according to the Commission's autumn forecasts, GDP growth in 2012 and 2013 would not be enough to improve the labour market.
The annual review analyses the polarisation of jobs and income inequalities, the measurement of poverty and the phenomenon of in-work poverty; and the challenge of active ageing and labour mobility.