The European Employment Strategy serves to coordinate the employment policies of the EU Member States and is a key instrument for implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. It is based on Articles 145-150 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which obligates Member States to coordinate their employment policies and to specify the instruments available for this in order to create more and better jobs in Europe.
The current Employment Guidelines outline employment policy elements which Member States should take into account in order to reach the Europe 2020 headline targets. Since 2010, the coordination of the European employment policy has been part of the so-called “European Semester” which was established with the aim of better aligning the European coordination processes in the economic, finance and employment policy fields with national political processes.
The German government reports in its annual National Reform Programme on the implementation of the Employment Guidelines in Germany. In this report, it currently details the following national targets for the above-mentioned strategic headline targets: By the year 2020, the employment rate in Germany for men and women together is to be raised to 77 per cent, the employment rate for women to 75 per cent and the employment rate for older workers to 60 per cent. Measures to reduce the risk of poverty and social exclusion include lowering the number of the long-term unemployed by 20 per cent compared with the level in 2008. The European Semester gives centre stage to the country-specific recommendations to the Member States which the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, approves every year with reference to the respective National Reform Programme.
In the employment-policy section of the country-specific recommendation to Germany, the Council recommended that Germany reduce the high tax wedge, in particular for low-wage earners, in a way that has a neutral impact on the budget, and maintain appropriate activation and integration measures, in particular for the long-term unemployed. It additionally recommends that Germany create the conditions necessary for wages to grow in line with productivity, and that Germany takes measures to raise the educational achievement of disadvantaged social groups, in particular by ensuring equal opportunities in the country's education and training systems. Other recommendations include phasing out the fiscal disincentives for second earners, and increasing the number of full-time child-care facilities and all-day schools.
Germany issued its comments on the implementation of the recommendations in its National Reform Programme for 2013. Member States are required to submit their respective National Reform Programme to the European Commission by mid-April 2013.
Within the German government, responsibility for the European Employment Strategy lies with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The Federal Ministry of Economics is responsible for the Europe 2020 strategy.