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 EC, 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 financial and administrative framework agreement (FAFA) governing financial and administrative matters between the United Nations and the EC. In 2004 the ILO and the EU signed a strategic partnership concerning development cooperation. The EU is a major global player in international development assistance. The executive arm of the EU, the EC, is divided into several Directorate-Generals (DG) responsible for the different dimensions of the EU's development programs. Among the different DG's, the ILO-Brussels Office has close contacts with those that have areas of common interest with the ILO, such as:
Europe 2020 is the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade, designed by the EC. In a changing world, the EC 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 EC 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 EC 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 mobilized 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.