EU crisis

ILO calls for urgent shift to a job-centred crisis response in Europe

Press release | 08 April 2013
Austerity measures have not addressed the root causes of the crisis or bring down unemployment, according to a snapshot of EU countries based on an upcoming ILO report on the state of global labour markets.

GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for an urgent shift to a job-centred strategy to tackle the deepening unemployment crisis that has left more than 26 million Europeans without a job.

“While fiscal and competitiveness goals are important, it is crucial not to tackle them through austerity measures and structural reforms that do not address the root causes of the crisis,” says the ILO in a snapshot of the EU labour market ahead of its 9th European regional meeting that opens in Oslo on Monday. “Instead, moving to a job-centred strategy could serve both macroeconomic and employment goals.”

According to the ILO, the employment situation has continued to deteriorate since the introduction of fiscal consolidation policies. Following a pause in 2010-2011, unemployment has kept growing and shows no signs of improvement. Over the past 6 months alone, one million people have lost their jobs in the EU.

Only 5 EU countries out of 27 (Austria, Germany, Hungary, Luxemburg and Malta) have witnessed employment rates above pre-crisis levels. Countries like Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Spain have seen their employment rate drop by more than 3 percentage points in the last two years alone.

There are now over 10 million more jobless people in Europe than at the start of the crisis. Young and low-skilled workers are the hardest hit.

Long-term unemployment is becoming a structural problem for many European countries. In 19 of them, more than 40 per cent of the unemployed are now long-term unemployed, meaning that they have been out of a job for twelve months or longer.

The worsening employment situation also means that the risk of social unrest is now 12 percentage points higher than before the start of the crisis.

A job-centred response to the crisis

The ILO is calling for the adoption of a series of policies to tackle the jobs crisis.

First, addressing the structural issues that lie behind the crisis, notably in the financial sector, which were at the epicentre of the crisis but have not yet been resolved. The result is that small and medium-sized companies do not have adequate access to bank credit, which is crucial to produce and create jobs.

Second, confronting the downward pressures on wages and employment that are damaging productive investment and intra-EU trade. The successful experience of Sweden’s response to its financial crisis in the 1990s shows that such an approach is both effective and feasible.

Third, adopting emergency measures such as employment guarantee schemes for young people. These are programmes designed to help young people get a job, education or training.

Fourth, using social dialogue between employers, workers and governments as a key tool for designing policies, gathering support for pro-employment reforms and ensuring that such reforms focus on what people really need.

About the European Regional Meeting

The ILO’s 9th European regional meeting will bring together government, worker and employer representatives from 51 European and Central Asian member States to discuss the way forward for the region in the context of the continuing financial, economic and social crisis. The meeting will web cast at the web site above.

Mr Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro will be participating (by video link), as well as Mr László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Ms Pervenche Beres, Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament.

The Belgian Labour Minister, Ms Monica De Coninck, and the Luxembourgish Labour and Immigration Minister, Mr Nicolas Schmit, will also attend the regional meeting.

More information

For more information and to arrange an interview please contact the ILO Department of Communication and Public Information on +4122/799-7912 or, or our European region senior communication officer, Stefan Giffeler on +32 47 906-3220 or

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