Throughout the years the European Commission (EC) and the ILO have progressively intensified their cooperation. This ILO-EC cooperation dates from 1958 and was set up immediately following the establishment of the European Economic Community. The partnership between the two institutions continuously enlarged, keeping pace with the evolution of the responsibilities, policies and activities of the European Commission, the emergence of the EU as a global player and the convergence of the strategic objectives and values of the EU and the ILO. In 2001, a formal exchange of letters between the ILO Director-General and the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs renewed the cooperation. It was agreed that, as from 2002, annual high-level ILO-EC meetings were to be held.
In 2003 the ILO adhered to a framework agreement governing financial and administrative matters between the United Nations and the European Commission. In 2004 the ILO and the EU signed a strategic partnership concerning development cooperation. The European Union is a major global player in international development assistance. The executive arm of the EU, the European Commission, is divided into several Directorate-Generals responsible for the different dimensions of the EU’s development programmes. Among the different Directorates-General, the ILO Office for the European Union and the Benelux Countries has close contacts with these Directorates-General (DG) who have areas of common interest with the ILO such as:
Europe 2020 is the European Union’s (EU) growth strategy for the coming decade, designed by the European Commission. In a changing world, the European Commission wants the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.
The Commission proposed a set of five ambitious objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy - to be reached by 2020. Each Member State adopts its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy. These objectives are backed up by concrete proposals to make sure they are delivered. To catalyse progress under each priority theme, the Commission initiated seven flagship initiatives, from which three deal with employment:
These flagship initiatives commit both the EU and the Member States and require a coordinated European response, including with social partners and civil society. EU-level instruments, notably the single market, financial levers and external policy tools, are fully mobilised to tackle bottlenecks and deliver the Europe 2020 goals. As an immediate priority, the Commission charts what needs to be done to define a credible exit strategy, to pursue the reform of the financial system, to ensure budgetary consolidation for long-term growth, and to strengthen coordination within the Economic and Monetary Union.