ILO formulates policy options for upward convergence in the EU

A new ILO publication examines the differences in socio-economic performance between EU Member States and formulates policy options for upward convergence.

Press release | 16 June 2016
BRUSSELS (ILO News) – If not well managed, rapid changes in the nature of employment and skill requirements, as well as rising levels of poverty and inequality in the EU could further exacerbate disparities across the Member States and harm the European integration project, warns a new study by the International Labour Organization entitled Building a Social Pillar for European Convergence.

Using key indicators such as unemployment, poverty rates and GDP per capita, the study shows that the EU member states are either diverging in terms of socio-economic outcomes or converging towards deteriorating outcomes. Clearly, the financial and economic crisis has widened the gap between EU countries, as evidenced by their labour market and social performance. For instance, while in 2007 the ratio of the highest to lowest unemployment rates in the EU was roughly 3 to 1 (between Slovakia and Denmark), the most recent figures indicate a ratio that exceeds 5 to 1 (between Greece and Germany).

The study stresses that convergence towards better socio-economic outcomes could be the foundation for a more integrated and stable Europe and a fully functioning monetary union.

“Improved socio-economic conditions are necessary for the political and societal support to the continued construction of the EU” said Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director of the ILO Office in Brussels.

Social dialogue plays a central role to help close these gaps. The European Pillar of Social Rights, an initiative of President Juncker of the European Commission, offers a unique opportunity to embed effective and inclusive dialogue in the EU governance, raise living standards in the EU and foster upward convergence among the Member States.

Importantly, the construction of such a Pillar could make a significant contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals No. 1 to end poverty by 2030 and No. 8 to promote decent work and economic growth.

Based on International Labour Standards, the study Building a Social Pillar for European Convergence contains analysis and policy options designed to strengthen social rights in the EU. It forms a central piece of the ILO’s contribution to the Commission’s consultation on the “European Pillar of Social Rights”, strengthening further the cooperation between both institutions as highlighted by President Juncker during his address to the 105th International Labour Conference last week.