Politics and Analysis

New EU report confirms labour shortage in Europe


On Tuesday, 17 December 2019, the European Commission presented its Joint Employment Report. The report is a part of the Commission's growth strategy for 2020, which in turn is a part of the so-called European Semester process.

The Commission's Joint Employment Report paints a picture of a Europe making progress with 241.5 million people in employment, and a record low unemployment rate in the EU of 6.3 pct. At the same time, the report indicates that labour shortages remains substantial. In particular in countries with low unemployment. The report illustrates what a number of organisations and experts in Denmark have long pointed out: companies experience labour shortages – both in Denmark as well as in other European countries.

- Danish companies have been experiencing a lack of employees for a long time, and the report confirms that picture. In such a situation, finding the employees abroad would be the obvious approach, but naturally that becomes more difficult when the rest of Europe is also experiencing a labour shortage. Quite simply, there is great competition for talented Europeans, says Christiane Miβlbeck-Winberg, Director of European and International Affairs for the Confederation of Danish Employers.

- It is thus absolutely crucial that we make it easier for companies to recruit employees from countries outside the EU. Moreover, we have to get better at targeting employment efforts towards concrete jobs, in order to move more Danes from income transfer payments to employment, she continues.

Need for strengthening social partners in Europe

The report also points to the necessity of having strong social partners and involving them in the European Semester, which is a process intended to co-ordinate economic policies in the EU member states. Especially in discussions on structural reforms of the EU’s labour markets.

While the social partners are in a strong position in Denmark and the Nordic countries, the report points to the need for capacity building and strengthening of social partners in a number of European countries, including Greece, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

- Reforms of the European labour markets is something that should take place at member state level through the involvement of the social partners. This ensures solutions that balance economic considerations with social considerations. To that end, it is also completely appropriate to be strengthening the social partners in those countries where they are in a weak position, and that effort should be prioritised in the future EU budget for 2021-27, says Christiane Miβlbeck-Winberg.

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