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Document 31984Y0704(01)

Conclusions of the Council of 22 June 1984 concerning a Community medium-term social action programme

OJ C 175, 4.7.1984, p. 1–3 (DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL)
Spanish special edition: Chapter 05 Volume 004 P. 118 - 120
Portuguese special edition: Chapter 05 Volume 004 P. 118 - 120

In force


Conclusions of the Council of 22 June 1984 concerning a Community medium-term social action programme

Official Journal C 175 , 04/07/1984 P. 0001 - 0003
Spanish special edition: Chapter 05 Volume 4 P. 0118
Portuguese special edition Chapter 05 Volume 4 P. 0118

CONCLUSIONS OF THE COUNCIL of 22 June 1984 concerning a Community medium-term social action programme (84/C 175/01)

The Community will not be able to strengthen its economic cohesion in the face of international competition if it does not strengthen its social cohesion at the same time. Social policy must therefore be developed at Community level on the same basis as economic, monetary and industrial policy.

The institutional differences which result from the traditions peculiar to each country and to which the latter are attached are often referred to. These differences are major, but social institutions and the relationships woven between the social partners over recent decades also reveal many similarities. In all countries they have been an important factor in economic growth, raising the standard of living and achieving full employment.

These differences between the institutions and social policies do not preclude the implementation of joint measures aimed at gradually promoting a European social area.

On the social front the Community must pursue the objectives it set itself at the outset : to seek full employment and better employment, and to improve living and working conditions, and to realize to the full the free circulation of workers. That means strengthening social solidarity and achieving a consensus between the social partners.

These objectives are inseparable from the search for stronger economic growth based on more competitive undertakings and development of the internal market and an economic policy aimed at maintaining as low a rate of inflation as possible.

The Community must help to strengthen the links between economic and social policies so as to boost its competitiveness and its solidarity vis-à-vis the outside world. The success of a proper economic policy is an essential requirement for the implementation of an adequate social policy. An effective social policy is a necessary support for economic policy. The changes necessitated by technological change should be backed up by a policy of education and vocational training, a labour-market policy and a social policy, with a view to allowing and encouraging rapid and successful adjustment.

In adapting measures to present circumstances, it is therefore necessary to continue and strengthen those already introduced, particularly in the fields of free movement of workers, employment, new technologies, guidance and vocational training, education, equal treatment of men and women, action to help less-favoured groups, health and safety at the place of work, but also to explore the possibilities of new initiatives in the areas of social protection, demographic change and family policy. Finally, the European social dialogue must be strengthened and its procedures adapted in order to involve the social partners more effectively in the economic and social decisions of the Community.

Within the framework of its powers and having regard to the limited financial means, the Community, without wishing to take the place of action by the Member States and both sides of industry, wishes to assert its political determination to make progress in the construction of a European social area. In this context, it is necessary to give a boost to certain initiatives necessary in order to give a new dynamism, continue along the road towards growth and social progress and consolidate democracy in Europe.

With this in mind, the Council takes the view that, apart from continuing and stepping up the measures introduced over the last few years and which have been the subject of Council resolutions, a series of measures and initiatives could be considered in future years in the following areas:

1. Employment, the social aspects of new technologies and training

Unemployment has proved to be the most intractable economic and social problem in the Community. Priority will be given in future years to the strengthening of measures to resolve the problem. These measures will have to be implemented in the constant knowledge that production machinery will have to be adapted to technological development in order to foster a high level of competitiveness in the face of international competition. 1.1. Young people of both sexes are experiencing in the Community a very considerably higher rate of unemployment than other age categories. This situation is very worrying for their social and professional future and the social balance of the Community countries. The situation, which reflects the insufficiency of offers of employment, is often associated with a low level of training or unsuitability of the qualifications obtained. Improved employment possibilities for young people and first and foremost for young unemployed people are a priority objective. The measures taken by the Community will have to be strengthened for this purpose, in particular as regards training and reconversion to new technologies and the social integration, in particular, of young people and women. The Commission has been requested to draw up a regular report on the means used and the results obtained in the different Community countries.

1.2. The Commission is requested, in accordance with the Council's conclusions on technological developments and social change to promote initiatives likely to favour development of forward-looking labour-market management, initial and on-going training and the retraining of people whose jobs are affected by the new developments as well as information, consultation and negotiation at the appropriate level.

1.3 As technological change has consequences for employment, work organization and production, the economic aspects connected with the raising of competitiveness should not be examined in isolation from the social aspects concerning the conditions of use of the labour force. Both sides of industry should be encouraged to enter into a dialogue on the conditions of use of equipment, adjustment of the organization of work and working hours, employment problems and the length of working time.

1.4 Special attention must be given to working conditions and particularly to aspects concerning the health and safety of workers, the more so since important factors in labour productivity are involved here. Priority should go to intensification of the Community measures initiated in this area. Arrangements should, in particular, be sought for taking systematic account of the ergonomic implications of technological innovations as from the stage of the study and design of the equipment. The Commission is requested to submit proposals to the Council, in particular as part of the second action programme of the European Communities on health and safety at the place of work.

2. Social protection and population trends

Social-protection systems are an important feature of the social cohesion of the Community countries. Furthermore, the security thus obtained is the counterpart of the necessary mobility of jobs in the face of technological change and competition.

Without this implying any harmonization objective, adjustments should, however, be envisaged in order to consolidate achievements and increase the efficiency of national systems. They would also contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of European economies in the face of international competition. The Commission will have to continue to ensure that these adjustments do not become a stake in the competition between European economies. 2.1. While taking institutional differences into account, the Commission is requested to endeavour to identify better the impact of social security payments on the competitiveness of undertakings, employment and the standard of living of households in the economic context as a whole. At the end of this task, it will report back to the Council.

2.2. The ministers responsible are invited to examine the means employed to control trends in health expenditure on the basis of a periodical report from the Commission. The latter will examine with the Member States the possibilities for cooperation in the field of health.

2.3. The Council will hold a regular exchange of information on the development of family policy and the effects of population trends as well as the consequences of ageing. The Commission is requested to conduct studies to this end.

2.4. In the present social and economic context, the importance of migration problems cannot be overlooked.

The Council takes note that the Commission will be submitting proposals to the Council for: - intensifying Community policies encouraging the cultural and social integration of migrant workers,

- developing cooperation between Member States on the control of migratory flows from third countries,

- comparing retraining policies for migrant workers volunteering to return to their third countries of origin and examining the links between these policies and the Community policy on cooperation with those countries.

3. The European social dialogue

The Council considers, finally, that carrying out a Community social policy and Community industrial strategies implies the continuation and development of the dialogue between the two sides of industry at Community level.

The Commission is requested, firstly, to examine the conditions which would conduce within the framework of existing mechanisms to improving the dialogue with the two sides of industry in order to associate them better with the Community's economic and social decisions.

Secondly, it is requested to work out appropriate methods for encouraging, while scrupulously respecting the autonomy of, and responsibilities peculiar to, the two sides of industry, the development of relations of parity at Community level.