The unemployment rate announced by the European Semester for 2019 is the lowest that has been registered since 2000, but the overall wellbeing of citizens from different regions of Europe have not been affected in the same way, said Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, who also laid out several policy suggestions to further improve the living and working conditions for all EU citizens.

According to data from December 2018, 240 million people are employed in the EU, while the overall unemployment rate in the bloc stands at 6.6%. This growth had a positive effect on the welfare of people, but unfortunately it doesn’t affect all citizens equally. The European Pillar of Social Rights is intended to highlight the necessity of investing in people to improve the life of Europeans by granting universal access to education, training, and life-long learning. Some of the successes of this approach include improving transparency and working conditions.

One of the goals of the Country Report, which assess the progress of the EU countries’ implementation of Country-Specific Recommendations from July 2018, is to determine priority investments. Some of these investments can be supported by the EU Fund, some of which will lead to programming decisions for the Cohesion Funds in the 2021-2027 EU budget. 

Thyssen announced that an innovative and smart economic transformation is needed in order to ameliorate the EU’s overall living and working conditions. In the interest of achieving this goal, Europe should be more connected, more social, and should adopt greener and low-carbon policies.

She also emphasised that a skilled workforce is a key to securing future investments, while the need to invest in people to sustain growth and boost convergence across Europe is vital.

“Demographic change and new technologies are reshaping the labour market, while skills shortages are on the rise across the EU. We need to shift up a gear. Investing in people’s skills, especially lifting the levels of the low-skilled, must be our top priority if we are to maintain our living standards.” 

Thyssen also added that some countries are putting their implementation plans at the top of the political agenda to place sustainable financing mechanisms. However, 61 million people across Europe are still without basic reading, writing, and digital skills. Thyssen believes that in order to tackle this issue, a second chance in education and training should be offered to low-skilled individuals.