1. INTRODUCTION - BACKGROUND
1.1. Programme/Legal base
This call covers a Preparatory Action requested by the European Parliament within the meaning of Article 54(2)(b) of Regulation (EU, EURATOM) 2015/1929 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 October 2015 amending Regulation (EU, EURATOM) No 966/2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union.
The preparatory action is called "Reactivate" and is aimed to test an intra-EU labour market activation measure to support the inclusion of EU unemployed citizens aged 35+ in the labour market.
Since the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis, unemployment has been particularly high among young people and long-term unemployed in most EU Member States leading to a sharp deterioration in their labour market. The age group over 35 has also been severely touched by the crisis and the job destruction, in particular those affected by lay-offs as a consequence of business downsizing, industrial decline, globalisation and delocalisation of manufacturing activities.
Many workers, with strong skills based on work experience, find themselves excluded from the labour market given the lack of job opportunities in their regions or countries. Other long-term unemployed people generally characterised by low employability and/or multiple disadvantages have also been strongly affected e.g. workers with low or redundant skills or qualifications, young people and older workers (>50 years old), persons with disabilities and disadvantaged minorities.
Those cohorts are often supported through national active labour market measures (e.g. vocational training and re-skilling, self-employment schemes, etc.) but their chances of faster work inclusion depend often on both their participation in national learning/training programmes and the job opportunities available in a limited geographical job market. There are many vacancies across Europe that remain unfilled due to skills shortages; yet the potential of intra-EU labour mobility, combined with up-skilling and inclusion measures to help unemployed adults, remains under-exploited.
In the light of the above, the European Parliament proposed a new intra-EU job mobility scheme called "Reactivate", in the form of a preparatory action. The scheme aims to support unemployed citizens in the 35+ age group, including long-term unemployed, to help them finding a job, traineeship or apprenticeship with at least 6 month duration in another Member State.
Building on the features of the "Your first EURES job" (YFEJ) mobility scheme1 (help young jobseekers under 36), "Reactivate" aims to be a pilot extension of that scheme. Similar to YFEJ, it will be featured as an intra-EU labour market activation measure, combining tailor-made recruitment, matching and placement services with financial support for jobseekers and employers (SMEs).
2. POLICY AND ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
President Juncker stressed in his political guidelines that this Commission will promote labour mobility not only as a right to free movement of workers, but also as an economic opportunity - especially in the face of persistent vacancies and skills mismatches and globalised economy challenge.
In 20152, employment rates improved across all EU population groups and most notably for older workers, but with large disparities across Member States. In December 2015 the EU unemployment rate was 9%. Long-term unemployment (unemployment for at least a year) is receding but still affects about 10 million Europeans. Still, the unemployment rate remains high and particularly so in certain countries, with Spain and Greece registering rates over 20%.
Moreover, despite public perceptions, labour mobility is low in the European Union. Only 4% of the EU population aged between 15 and 64 years are living in an EU Member State other that their country of birth (mobile EU people)3. Evidence-based analysis shows that high unemployment and low labour mobility within and between countries co-exist with skills and labour shortages in some countries and regions. Intra-EU labour mobility can help to address labour market imbalances and improve labour market's efficiency. It can contribute to improving the allocation of resources and serve as an adjustment mechanism for unbalanced labour markets whilst enabling economies to cope better with economic shocks.
Several EU legal and operational initiatives already focus on supporting the exercise of the individual right to free movement of EU citizens. The most relevant are the following (mainly for workers, employers and students):
Clarification and completion of articulation of rights (Enforcement Directive on free movement of workers making information and legal advice tools available for migrant workers; recognition of qualifications, supplementary pension’s rights).
EURES4 (European Employment Services), i.e. the network between the Public Employment Services of Member States, other member organisations (social partners) and the European Commission, giving information and assistance to job seekers and employers on respectively the available job vacancies and living and working conditions in Member States as well as on matching these jobs vacancies with profiles of job seekers interested in finding employment in another EU country.
The EURES Regulation5 to reinforce the organisation and activities of the EURES network. It aims at improving the transparency of the European labour market, facilitating online skills-based matching across borders, enhancing workers' access to mobility support services across the Union and reinforcing cooperation and information exchange on mobility. This is a key EU instrument for promoting the opportunities free movement of workers offers in accordance with Article 45 TFEU.
Support mobility programmes for young students (Erasmus+), for entrepreneurs (Erasmus for entrepreneurs) or for young jobseekers (YFEJ).
Drop'pin, a web-based platform that connects young people with training, up- skilling and mobility opportunities across Europe offered directly by employers, SMEs and NGOs in order to boost their employability and skills.
Other EU information platforms such as Your Europe, Europe Direct or Solvit.
The EURES Regulation is a key instrument to achieve the reform and modernisation of EURES. It introduces obligations to set up systems in Member States to open up the network to other actors than the public employment services, to provide access to mobility support services in Member States, to increase transparency on job vacancies on the European labour markets and to improve the information exchange on labour shortages across the EU.
Besides the above EU instruments, the Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on long-term unemployment6 calls on Member States to identify jobseekers' needs (individual assessment) and to propose them a job integration plan. This should consist of a tailor-made plan, involving measures such as mentoring, job search support, further training, health care or family support. It should be delivered through a single point of contact to ensure the continuity and consistency of the support.
3. THE POTENTIAL OF EU JOB MOBILITY SCHEMES
In spite of the measures in place as above, there is no EU initiative to address specifically the needs of the age group over 35 willing to experience cross border mobility for finding employment or a work trial in another Member State. The business communities in Member States, and in particular the small and medium- sized companies (SMEs), may also find interest in having access to a wide pool of mobile workers and enhanced support to help them address skills shortages and skill mismatches.
The EURES network already provides information and placement support to all jobseekers interested in moving and working in another Member State, irrespective of the age group. At Member State level this support is often complementary to national activation measures implemented by the Public Employment Services (PES).
However, many Member States have not yet equipped their Public Employment Services fully with tailor-made services and financial support measures adapted to the individual needs of jobseekers and employers interested in intra-EU labour mobility.
3.1. The example and lessons from YFEJ
The Commission tested the YFEJ mobility scheme during three consecutive budget years (2011-2013) as a preparatory action. The scheme aimed to help young EU-28 citizens aged 18-30 to find a job, traineeship or apprenticeship in another Member State (remunerated, minimum 6 months contract). It also supported employers (SMEs with up to 250 employees) to find workers in another EU country for their hard-to-fill vacancies. The scheme combined the provision of information, recruitment, matching and placement services with EU financial support, based on a mix of simplified cost options and reimbursement of actual declared costs. A total of fifteen projects were selected through three calls for proposals with an overall budget of ca EUR 12 Mio. All projects together resulted in 4251 work placements.
The findings of the YFEJ interim evaluation (2014) outline in particular the relevance, EU added value and complementarity of the scheme with EURES. A study on the YFEJ mobility scheme and options for future EU measures on youth intra-EU labour mobility is in progress. The study comprises both a retrospective and a prospective dimension. Under the retrospective dimension, the study will carry out the ex-post evaluation of the YFEJ mobility scheme, building on the findings of the interim evaluation. Under the prospective dimension, the study will examine potential future policy options to support youth intra-EU labour mobility for the European Commission. A report will be made public by early 2017.
As of 2014, YFEJ is continued as a Targeted Mobility Scheme under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation7, covering the EU/EFTA countries (EU 28, Norway and Iceland) and the age group 18-35.
3.2. Improving access to intra-EU labour markets
In order to tackle intra-EU mobility challenges, jobseekers - low skilled or long-term unemployed people in particular - need a package of support services to succeed their endeavour. Both YFEJ and "Reactivate" are conceived as inclusive schemes. They can play the role of EU active labour measures in support of workers and employers contributing to a more effective implementation of the EURES Regulation, notably the development of its provisions on support services8. "Reactivate" in particular can offer the age group 35+ an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from tailor-made employment support, acquire diversified knowledge and skills, learn new languages and strengthen their EU citizenship values.
4. OBJECTIVES – PRIORITIES – TYPE OF ACTION AND EXPECTED RESULTS
4.1 Objectives - Priorities
The objective of the call is to support the development of actions under a common scheme called "Reactivate" for the placement of EU citizens over 35 years in jobs, traineeships or apprenticeships in an EU country other than their country of residence.
The actions will be targeted to citizens who are in a vulnerable situation in the labour market, notably unemployed people, including long-term unemployed.
4.2 Type of action
Projects can cover all economic sectors and types of occupations, though specific sectors may be given priority in accordance with the demand side or the supply side needs.
Applicant organisations are free to choose the activities, methods and tools etc. to implement their action, on condition that they comply with the mandatory framework for the provision of assistance and financial support to target groups laid down in Annex II – Implementing Guidelines.
Applicant organisations are invited to find inspiration from YFEJ and "The Job of My Life" Programmes to elaborate the concept of their projects for "Reactivate" and the
corresponding set of measures9. All projects under this call shall be named "Reactivate" (mandatory).
The action supported by the projects shall
- deliver a comprehensive, tailor-made package of mobility services, combining customized activation measures with direct financial support to both the target group of EU citizens over 35 years of age and employers (in particular SME's);
- include at least, as activation measures within this package, information and assistance with offers and vacancies, matching these with candidates and the preparation of the placement /recruitment in a number of Member States involving jobs, apprenticeships and/or traineeships;
- provide one or more items of direct financial support to both the target group of EU citizens over 35 years of age and employers (in particular SME's) in accordance with the five pre-defined items in this call (Annex II).
The projects may include further measures such as post-placement support (welcome and integration services) and other tailor-made support like coaching packs for trainees and apprentices, combined (or not) with the above mentioned direct financial support.
4.3 Expected outputs/results
The action is quality-oriented and outcome-driven: the scheme aims to deliver quality placements to ensure candidates' skills development/reactivation and employability. Applications shall clearly indicate the expected number and nature of placements (jobs, traineeships or apprenticeships) as well as the targeted recruiting sectors.
The awarded projects shall monitor closely their activities. They will report results on the basis of a minimum number of common indicators on outreach activities, the measures provided to the target groups, the direct financial support provided and the resulting placements. Applicant organisations shall provide regularly (in principle twice a year), either directly to the Commission or to an authorised contractor, data in accordance with the list indicated in Annex II. This data may be analysed and compiled in a monitoring report.
The Commission will monitor the implementation of the preparatory action as a whole and promote networking among the project beneficiaries. To that end, at least three meetings will be held with the Commission in Brussels (one meeting every six months). The purpose is to provide guidance and take stock of progress made. The lead applicant must nominate the project coordinator, who will participate in the networking meetings with the Commission. The Commission may also be invited to participate in at least one strategic meeting of the consortia e.g. the project kick-off meeting.
Lead applicants may also be invited to other ad hoc meetings or events during the lifetime of the action. These venues can be an opportunity for raising awareness to the action and disseminating information.
The estimated budget should include provisions for participation in the monitoring activities and meetings above as well as in, at least, one EU level event (for further information, see section 16).