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European Employment Strategy (EES)

Launched in 1997 at the Luxembourg European Council, the EES is the European Union’s main instrument for coordinating EU countries’ reform efforts in the area of labour market and social policies. The mechanism is based on benchmarking, monitoring and learning rather than legislation.

Since 1997, the EES has undergone various changes both in governance and policy orientation. In 2005, it was re-launched as part of the Lisbon Strategy. This led to a fusion of the European Employment Guidelines with the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG) into a single set of Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs. The Lisbon Strategy was revised in 2010 with the launch of the Europe 2020 Strategy. EU countries agreed on new priorities, which were expressed in new targets and integrated guidelines. Since 2011, the EES is fully integrated in the European Semester, the yearly cycle of economic policy coordination.

The EES is based on:

  • the Joint Employment Report, which analyses the main employment challenges facing EU countries and their policy responses to the Employment Guidelines over the past year;
  • the Annual Growth Survey, which sets out the EU's macroeconomic priorities to boost economic growth and job creation and opens the European semester;
  • the Integrated Guidelines, which set the main policy priorities as regards employment and social matters;
  • the Country-Specific Recommendations, which offer tailored guidance to EU countries on how to address the economic, employment and social challenges facing them.