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Employment and social policy

The European Union (EU) aims to promote social progress and improve the living and working conditions of everyone in the EU, a principle enshrined in the preamble of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). 

In accordance with the TFEU — particularly Article 153 — the EU complements policy initiatives taken by individual EU Member States by setting minimum standards to be achieved by all Member States. 

European employment, social affairs and equal opportunities policies aim to improve living and working conditions by promoting more and better jobs, skills, equality and social protection and inclusion.

The EU is a catalyst for social change, seeking to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and social protection systems according to the 20 key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan, by 2030 at least 78% of people aged 20 to 64 should be in employment, at least 60% of all adults should participate in training every year, and the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million, including at least 5 million children.

In order to achieve these objectives, the EU is developing and promoting policies to ensure equal opportunities and access to the labour market, increase employment and worker mobility, improve the quality of jobs and working conditions, inform and consult workers, combat poverty and social exclusion, promote equal opportunities and combat discrimination, and modernise social protection systems.

The EU’s long-term budget for 2021–2027, coupled with the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument, provide unprecedented EU funds which can support reforms and investments in Member States in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. In particular, the European Social Fund+, with €99.3 billion, will continue to be the EU’s main instrument to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and achieve the 3 2030 EU headline targets.