EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Employment policy guidelines (2008-2010)

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Employment policy guidelines (2008-2010)

The guidelines proposed by the Commission should direct the coordination of European Union (EU) Member States’ policies towards an objective of employment and sustainable growth.


Council Decision 2008/618/EC of 15 July 2008 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.


Employment guidelines are one of the three pillars for the Integrated Guidelines for 2008-2010. They add to the Broad Economy Policy Guidelines (BEPG) 2008-2010 which cover macroeconomic policies and national microeconomic reforms.

Member States should adopt policies that enable full employment, improve quality and productivity at work, and strengthen social and territorial cohesion (Guideline No 17). By adhering to these priorities by 2010, the European Union (EU) should achieve an employment rate of 70 % overall, of at least 60 % for women and of 50% for older workers (55 to 64).

The Commission proposes three priority fields of action for growth and employment:

  • Attract more people in employment, increase labour supply and modernise social protection systems

Considering the ageing of the European population, employment policies should be better adapted to different stages in the lifecycle (Guideline No 18). Action should encourage longer working lives and active ageing, whilst ensuring the modernisation and viability of social protection systems (including pensions and health). Appropriate policies should also ensure that youth unemployment is reduced in accordance with the aims of the Youth Pact. In addition, female participation should be increased by ensuring gender equality. Policies should ensure that work and family life is better coordinated, by developing childcare services and care for other dependants.

The European labour market should be inclusive and strengthen work attractiveness in particular for job-seekers. It should be a factor for social inclusion (Guideline No 19). To this end active inclusion measures should be implemented, early and equally. As should incentives and disincentive measures related to tax and benefit systems. New jobs should be developed in services for individuals and businesses.

Matching of labour market needs (Guideline No 20), can be improved through the modernisation of national labour market institutions, in particular by ensuring greater transparency of the dissemination of employment and training opportunities and better anticipation of labour shortages. It is also essential to encourage intra-European mobility, and to better reap the benefits of immigrant labour.

  • Improve adaptability of workers and enterprises to the economic situation

In order to better respond to economic and social changes, the labour market should be more flexible and more homogenous, whilst guaranteeing employment security (Guideline No 21). Member States should integrate these objectives into their national legislation, and promote innovative forms of work organisation. They should anticipate economic changes in order to reduce their social costs and to facilitate workers’ occupational transitions.

Labour cost developments and wage-setting mechanisms should be employment-friendly (Guideline No 22). Social partners should implement frameworks for salary negotiation which take into account productivity and labour market objectives. Whilst the tax burden on the low-paid should be reduced.

  • Invest in human capital through better education and skills

Investment in human capital (Guideline No 23) should be increased. This should be achieved through inclusive policies for education and training at all levels. Also by reducing the number of early school leavers. Strategies should be adopted for lifelong learning, and these can be supported in particular by financial incentives.

Education and training systems should be better adapted to new needs in terms of qualifications (Guideline No 24). The openness and quality of these systems should be guaranteed, as should the diversity of training opportunities and possibilities for mobility. Education and training should be accessible to all, in particular through working time organisation, vocational guidance and cost sharing. Non-formal and informal education should be better recognised and validated.



Entry into force

Transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2008/618/EC



OJ L 198 of 26.7.2008


Council Recommendation 2009/531/EC of 25 June 2009 on the 2009 update of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [OJ L 183 of 15.7.2009]. These recommendations are intended to enable Member States to improve the implementation of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs (cycle 2008-2010). They concern both economic policy guidelines and employment policy guidelines.

These recommendations are specific to the economic and social situation of each State and take account of the slowdown resulting from the international financial crisis.

Member States are to modify their national reform programmes and to give an account of their actions in the annual reports on the implementation of those programmes.

Council Decision 2009/536/EC of 7 July 2009 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. The guidelines for the employment policies, as adopted by Decision 2008/618/EC of 15 July 2008, are maintained in 2009.

Last updated: 19.11.2009