Employment Services Network

The Commission wants to legally establish an EU-wide network of public employment services in order to better integrate labour markets, increase geographical and occupational mobility and combat social exclusion.

This network would provide an effective platform for comparing the performance public employment services against relevant benchmarks, identifying best practices and fostering mutual learning.

Member States' public employment services (PES) have a crucial role to play in helping Europe’s 26 million unemployed find work. PES implement active labour market policies and provide job seekers with the help and advice they need.

The latest issue of the European Vacancy Monitor shows that despite record unemployment in Europe, 1.7 million vacancies remain unfilled in the EU.

PES are also frequently in charge of unemployment and other social benefit systems. Ensuring their efficiency is therefore an essential part of an effective employment policy.

Experience has shown however that Member States do not engage sufficiently in mutual learning and benchmarking activities by themselves, which is why the Commission believes a formalised pan-European approach is needed.

Indeed, achieving closer cooperation between European PES is the central goal of this legislative proposal.

The Proposal

An informal European Expert Group of Public Employment Services (PES) has existed since 1997. This proposed Decision would formalise the status of this expert group, and clearly define its tasks. The Commission believes that a formalised structure is vital in order to increase the network’s potential.

Benefits of Formal Cooperation

A European network of PES, established on solid legal ground, would be able to comprehensively increase coordinated activities and provide the network with legitimacy to act, says the Commission. It would also better facilitate the implementation of labour market projects financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), which are often cross-border in nature.

In this way, the proposed initiative could contribute to improved cost-efficiency, an important consideration given the current economic situation. Shrinking public budgets has meant that some PES have had to be merged. Public Employment Services would continue to cooperate with each other within EURES, the pan-EU job search network.

Network Tasks

The proposal lays down clear tasks for the network. These include:
• Developing and implementing European-wide evidence-based benchmarking systems among public employment services to assess PES performances 
• Sharing this data, knowledge and practices between European partners
• Providing mutual assistance for the implementation of PES-related country specific recommendations issued by the Council
• Adopting and implementing a concept for modernising and strengthening PES in key areas
• Preparing reports in the employment field, at the request of either the Council, or the Commission or on its own initiative
• Contributing to the implementation of policy initiatives in the employment field, such as the Youth Guarantee Scheme
• Adopting and implementing an annual programme that spells out its working methods, deliverables and additional details related to the implementation of the benchmarking systems

Coordinating Policy

The Commission believes that a formalised network would provide an efficient means of delivering improvements in the field of employment. It has identified PES as having a central role in achieving the Europe 2020 target of a 75 % employment rate for women and men aged 20 to 64 by 2020.

A notable example of where the network could make a difference is the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. This calls on Member States to ensure that young people are offered a job, further education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving school.

The Commission aims to support Member States in this objective through EU funding and the promotion of exchanges of good practice among Member States. The proposed network would play a key role in facilitating the exchange of best practice and monitoring the implementation of employment initiatives.

Organisation of the Network

The Network would be governed by a board. Each Member State would nominate from the senior management of its PES one member and one alternate member.

The Commission would also appoint one member and one alternate member for the board. Alternate members would be able to replace members whenever necessary.

A chair and two vice-chairs would then be appointed from among the PES members of the board; the chair will represent the Network. The vice-chairs would be able to replace the chair whenever necessary.

The board would be assisted by a secretariat provided by and based within the Commission. The secretariat will prepare in cooperation with the chair and vice-chairs the board meetings, the annual work programme and the annual report.

Next Steps

The proposed Decision will now go to the EU's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption, and should be implemented from 2014.

Four years after its entry into force, the Commission shall submit a report on the application of this Decision. The report will assess to what extent the network has contributed to the achievement of its objectives and whether it has fulfilled its tasks.