European Council adopts recommendation on the integration of long-term unemployed

UnemploymentThe January European Council adopted, without further discussion, the recommendation on the integration of long-term unemployed, of which the draft has been presented in September by the European Commission. The recommendation aims to improve the services provided to long-term unemployed by encouraging the creation of 'one-stop shops' to all benefits and labour market tools, comprehensive assessments of skills and needs after a maximum of 18 months of unemployment and by increasing registration of long-term unemployed by public employment agencies. The proportion of long-term unemployed is highest for older jobseekers.

The Council recommendation, adopted in January, aims to enable those who have not been working for one year or more to re-integrate the labour market. The measures put forward by the recommendation are:

  • Increased registration of long-term unemployed by public employment services
  • Assessment of drivers and barriers of labour market integration after 18 months at the latest
  • Creation of individualised job-integration agreements, outlining the rights, benefits and obligations of long-term job-seekers after 18 months of unemployment at the latest. Offers should include job-search assistance, in-work assistance, validation of non-formal and informal learning, rehabilitation, counselling and guidance, education etc. un to early childhood education and care, health and long-term care services, debt counselling and housing and transport
  • Creation of a single point of contact for job-seekers, coordinating employment and social support services
  • Creation of partnerships between employers, social partners, employment services, social services and education and training providers to better meet the needs of long-term jobseekers
  • Development of services for employers such as the screening on job vacancies, workplace mentoring and training, post-placement support

The Council has committed to re-assess the recommendation after three years of implementation.

AGE: Invest into life-long learning, do not let job-seekers alone

AGE has been following the process of the Council recommendation, as older workers (55-65) are most at risk to become long-term unemployed or inactive when their lose their job. AGE has welcomed the Commission initiative, highlighting a lack of ambition however. In the original Commission proposal, services on offer for long-term unemployed were not specified and little reference was made to the availability of training and life-long learning and in-work assistance. These have now been included in the recommendation. The Council has also taken a very wise step to explicitly mention the provision of long-term care and childcare services as part of the integration agreements. AGE therefore warmly welcomes the changes and adoption of the recommendation. A number of points should however still be regarded in the implementation phase:

  • 18 months of unemployment is a very long period, member states should strive to create personalised assessments and service offers even before completing the first year of unemployment.
  • Local and regional authorities should be very pro-active in implementing the recommendation, as they are often responsible for social services – both accompanying social services such as childcare and long-term care, as well as concrete job-integration services
  • The recommendation needs to be underpinned by notable investment into guidance, counselling and assistance services, as well as in the availability of quality life-long learning opportunities. Since the financial crisis in 2008, life-long learning expenses have been dropping, hampering the suitability of the workforce to companies' needs and the employability of older workers especially.


Further information:

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel at the AGE Secretariat:

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