As one of the immediate actions following the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the European Commission made a recommendation on 4 March on an initiative called EASE (Effective Active Support to Employment) for the post-COVID-19 crisis period.

Through EASE, the Commission wants to offer guidance to member states on policy measures to gradually transition from the emergency measures taken to preserve jobs in the current crisis to new measures needed for a job-rich recovery backed by EU funding possibilities, according to the statement. The EASE initiative aims to promote job creation and job-to-job transitions from declining sectors towards expanding sectors, notably the digital and green ones, the Commission said. New measures would include hiring incentives and entrepreneurial support, upskilling and reskilling opportunities and enhanced support by employment services.

In general, Eurodiaconia welcomes the EASE recommendation. However, we see the urgent need to further improve the inclusion of the long-term unemployed, migrants and Roma in education and vocational training alongside supporting their access to employment. Unfortunately, it seems that the initiatives on EU level mainly focus on ‘skills’ for the labour market, whereas broader objectives beyond skills and employment should also be pursued.  The Recommendation rightly states that promoting inclusiveness requires providing equal opportunities in labour market transitions regardless of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Low-qualified/skilled adults and people with a migrant background should remain in focus.

Eurodiaconia echoes the Commissions call on Member States to “provide individualised support to jobseekers, comprising counselling, guidance and mentoring, assessment and validation of skills, job-search assistance, entrepreneurship support and referrals to social services when needed. Specific attention should be devoted to young people, in particular those entering the labour market, and to countering gender bias and other forms of discrimination.” Eurodiaconia members are key actors in this multi-stakeholder approach and ready to further extend their cooperation. Additionally, one crucial aspect included in the recommendation and which should be highlighted even further is that “outreach activities by the public employment services should be promoted, with a specific focus on the hard-to-reach long-term unemployed or inactive youth, in cooperation with social services.”

Finally, Eurodiaconia was disappointed that an EU reinsurance scheme to support national unemployment benefits was not part of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and we urge the Commission to put it back on the table.

You can find Eurodiaconia’s initial statement on the EPSR Action Plan in PDF form here.

The Commission Recommendation of 4.3.2021 on an effective active support to employment following the COVID-19 crisis (EASE) can be found here.