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What is InvestEU?

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The InvestEU Programme will bring together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the EU, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible.

The InvestEU Programme consists of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. It will further boost job creation and support investment and innovation in the EU.

InvestEU will run between 2021 and 2027 and it builds on the success of the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by providing an EU budget guarantee to support investment and access to finance in the EU. InvestEU aims to trigger at least €650 billion in additional investment.

The InvestEU Fund will support four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. InvestEU will also be flexible: it will have the ability to react to market changes and policy priorities that change over time.

The InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide technical support and assistance to help with the preparation, development, structuring and implementation of projects, including capacity building.

The InvestEU Portal will bring together investors and project promoters by providing an easily-accessible and user-friendly database.

Why do we need InvestEU?

The investment conditions in Europe have improved since the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, was launched, thanks to structural reforms carried out by the Member States, a more a favourable economic situation and interventions such as EFSI. To help investment recover further, InvestEU will continue the work of the Juncker Plan to mobilise public and private resources in the EU. It will help to address market failures and investment gaps to foster jobs and growth and to reach EU policy goals such as sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion.

How will the InvestEU Fund work?

The InvestEU Fund will mobilise public and private investment through an EU budget guarantee of €38 billion that will back the investment projects of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and other financial partners, and increase their risk-bearing capacity. The financial partners are expected to contribute at least €9.5 billion in risk-bearing capacity. The guarantee will be provisioned at 40%, meaning that €15.2 billion of the EU budget is set aside in case calls are made on the guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will be implemented through financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU guarantee. The main partner will be the EIB Group, which has successfully implemented and managed EFSI since its launch in 2015. In addition to the EIB Group, International Financial Institutions active in Europe – such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developments (EBRD), the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank – and National Promotional Banks will have direct access to the EU guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will also feature a Member State compartment for each policy area, meaning that Member States may add to the EU guarantee’s provisioning by voluntarily channelling some of their Cohesion Policy funds to these compartments. Like this, Member States will benefit from the EU guarantee and its high credit rating, giving national and regional investments more firepower.

What’s the advantage compared to the status quo, especially for the final beneficiaries?

Creating one coherent programme benefits from economies of scale. It achieves greater risk diversification, has a more integrated governance structure, and mainstreams cross-sectorial policies, bringing a multitude of instruments under one single structure. Using a budget guarantee – and not only financial instruments or grants – can help increase the impact of public funds. In this way we can do more with less.

The new approach also helps to reduce uncertainty for final beneficiaries and financial intermediaries about which instrument is the best for them.

Under the InvestEU Fund, there will be a single programme with a strong identity and a single set of coherent requirements (for eligibility, monitoring and reporting), which will apply throughout the financing chain to the benefit of financial intermediaries and final beneficiaries. InvestEU will eliminate overlaps and ensure synergies both for financing and advisory services. The InvestEU Advisory Hub will integrate 13 different advisory services into a one-stop-shop.

Also, when blending grants from other programmes like Horizon Europe, the Single Market Programme or the Connecting Europe Facility with support from InvestEU, InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This is a major simplification compared to today.

What will InvestEU finance?

The InvestEU Fund will be market-based and demand-driven. By crowding-in private investors, it will help achieve the EU’s ambitious goals in sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion. Investments will come under four policy areas, which represent important policy priorities for the Union and bring high EU added value:

  • sustainable infrastructure;
  • research, innovation and digitisation;
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps;
  • social investment and skills.

The budget guarantee is divided between the policy areas as follows:

Sustainable infrastructure:  €11.5 billion

Research, innovation and digitisation: €11.25 billion

SMEs:   €11.25 billion

Social investment and skills:  €4 billion

The Commission can adjust these amounts by up to 15% in each policy window to adapt to evolving policy priorities and market demand.

Who will manage InvestEU?

As in the case of EFSI, a Steering Board will give strategic direction on programme implementation. It will be composed of the Commission (four members), the EIB Group (three members) and other implementing partners (two members – International Financial Institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or National Promotional Banks), as well as a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament. The Steering Board will strive to take its decisions by consensus.

An Advisory Board will assist the Steering Board. It is composed of representatives of implementing partners (one member each) and Member States (one member each). The agreement between the European Parliament and the Council extends membership to the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee (one member each). The Commission will be able to consult this board when preparing and designing new financial products or to follow market developments and share information. This Advisory Board will be able to issue recommendations to the Steering Board on the implementation and functioning of the InvestEU programme.

An Investment Committee will approve the individual guarantee requests. This Committee is composed of external experts selected in an open process, and remunerated by the EU budget. The Investment Committee will be assisted by a secretariat, which will be staffed by and located in the Commission. The secretariat will provide administrative support for the organisation of meetings, agendas, minutes and interact with the implementing partners as appropriate to ensure the files transmitted to the Investment Committee are complete.

The EIB as the strategic partner may send its guarantee requests directly to the Investment Committee. This will be subject to notification to the secretariat, based in the Commission, which will assume all horizontal tasks and handle the guarantee requests of all other implementing partners.

Who will choose the InvestEU projects?

Just as is the case under EFSI, the Investment Committee will select projects based on compliance with the eligibility criteria set by the Regulation as well as the Investment Guidelines, with a specific focus on additionality.

Members of the Investment Committee will be external experts with expertise from the relevant sectors. The Committee will meet in four different configurations corresponding to the policy windows.

The Committee’s decisions will be made independently, with no political interference.

In practice, Commission services will first verify the consistency of the proposed operations with EU law and policies. Projects passing this initial check will be passed on to the Investment Committee.

The Investment Committee will approve the use of the EU guarantee for financing and investment operations, taking its decision after assessing the project scoreboard presented by the implementing partners. Just as under EFSI, all decisions approving the use of the EU guarantee will be publicly available.

What will be the InvestEU eligibility criteria?

InvestEU projects must:

  • address market failures or investment gaps and be economically-viable
  • need EU backing in order to get off the ground
  • achieve a multiplier effect and where possible crowd-in private investment
  • help meet EU policy objectives.

The eligibility criteria are defined in the Financial Regulation.

Why does EFSI cease to exist? Why not just create an EFSI 3.0?

EFSI was launched in July 2015 to boost investment and stimulate economic growth and employment in the EU, at a time when Europe was still recovering from the financial and economic crisis. It was originally foreseen to have a short investment period to maximise the impact, until July 2018. Due to its success, EFSI was expanded in size and extended in duration in December 2017. Its investment period now lasts until end-2020, the end of the current long-term budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). No new investments can be undertaken under EFSI after 2020 but – as with most EU financial instruments – the liabilities run for much longer.

The InvestEU Programme builds on the success of EFSI, and will continue to create and support jobs across the EU by following the same model based on an EU budget guarantee.

Is InvestEU taking budget from other financing programmes? What will happen to programmes like COSME and InnovFin?

The InvestEU Fund will bring under one roof the 14 EU financial instruments currently supporting investment in the EU, giving it a single, strong brand. The InvestEU Fund will capture the objectives of existing instruments such as COSME and InnovFin and be able to boost investments even further thanks to the larger scale and efficiencies of the single InvestEU Fund. The four InvestEU Fund policy areas place emphasis on areas of strategic importance for the EU, with €11.25 billion each of the guarantee earmarked for small businesses and a further €11.25 billion earmarked for research, innovation and digitisation.

Can InvestEU financing be blended with EU grants?

Yes. Blending can be necessary in some situations to underpin investments in order to address particular market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund can be combined with grants or financial instruments, or both, funded by the centrally managed Union budget or by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) Innovation Fund. Such combinations can create advantages for project promoters in sectors such as transport, research and digital. When a project uses EU grants and InvestEU, the InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This means a single rulebook and a major simplification compared to today.

What will be the risk profile of investments? What type of investments will the InvestEU Fund be targeting compared to today’s financial instruments?

The InvestEU Fund will target economically viable projects in areas where there are market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund instruments will seek to attract commercial financing to a wide range of operations and beneficiaries and will only support projects where financing could not be obtained at all or not at the required terms without InvestEU Fund support. It will also target higher risk projects in specific areas.

In addition, InvestEU places more emphasis on social investment and skills. The allocation for budgetary guarantees and financial instruments in the social sector under the current long-term EU budget amounts to €2.2 billion whereas InvestEU allocates €4 billion of the EU guarantee to this policy area, almost doubling what is currently available.

What is the expected multiplier effect for InvestEU? How do you expect to reach €650 billion?

Due to InvestEU targeting higher risk innovation projects and SMEs, as well as the greater focus on EU policy objectives, we expect a slightly more conservative multiplier effect than under EFSI: 13.7 rather than 15. That is to say that for every public euro that is mobilised through the Fund, €13.7 of total investment, that would not have happened otherwise, is generated.

The €15.2 billion budget earmarked for InvestEU allows the EU budget to provide a guarantee of €38 billion. In addition, each financial partner will be expected to contribute some resources to ensure alignment of interest, adding an estimated total of €9.5 billion, so the total guarantee will be around €47.5 billion. This in turn will be leveraged by each financial partner. This means they can lend more than the guarantee amount. Finally, each InvestEU-backed project will attract other private and public investors, as we have seen under the Juncker Plan, and we expect this will trigger at least €650 billion in total investment.

Why is the InvestEU Fund open to other financial partners? Why not work exclusively with the EIB Group, like with EFSI?

Given its role as the EU’s public bank, its capacity to operate in all Member States, and its experience in managing EFSI, the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group will remain the Commission’s main financial partner under InvestEU and implement 75% of the €38 billion guarantee. It will also play an important role in the programme governance and implementation. For the remaining 25%, International Financial Institutions and National Promotional Banks, which can offer specific expertise and experience, can become financial partners, subject to conditions.

Opening up the possibility to benefit from the EU guarantee to other institutions is driven by the fact that there are other experienced potential financial partners in the EU, which have specific financial or sectorial expertise, deep knowledge of their local market or greater capacity to share risk with the EU in some areas. This approach will enlarge and diversify the pipeline of projects and increase the potential pool of final beneficiaries.

The Commission wants to ensure that the beneficiaries of InvestEU can get the best possible support and with easiest access. The InvestEU Fund will therefore be open to other institutions, either multilateral or national institutions.

How does an entity become an implementing partner under InvestEU?

The European Investment Bank Group – the EU Bank – will be an implementing partner for 75% of the EU guarantee. For the remaining 25% of the EU guarantee, International Financial Institutions (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Bank, etc.) or National Promotional Banks and Institutions wishing to become an implementing partner must first undergo a so-called Pillar Assessment. This means that, as a prerequisite, they must meet requirements in areas relating to the internal control system, the accounting system, an independent external audit and rules and procedures for providing financing from EU funds through grants, procurement and financial instruments.

The process to become an implementing partner consists of three main steps. First, the interested entity needs to submit an application to the Commission. Second, Commission services carry out an eligibility check. If the result is positive, the Pillar Assessment can take place. It is usually carried out by external consultants contracted by the interested entity and lasts between six and 18 months. Third, the Commission issues a call for expression of interest and any entity in the process of passing the Pillar Assessment can apply to become an implementing partner. The Commission will discuss the financial products and negotiate a guarantee agreement with institutions that have answered the call. The Pillar Assessment needs to be completed on the day of the signature of the guarantee agreement.

How does a company apply for InvestEU financing?

Project promoters should apply directly to the EIB, to national and regional promotional banks, or to the national offices of International Financial Institutions such as the EBRD, the World Bank, or the Council of Europe Development Bank. At that stage, the financial partners submit a proposal to the Commission to apply for the EU guarantee. SMEs should continue to apply to their local commercial or public banks whose financial products are covered by the EU guarantee in their country or region. The local intermediary will inform them if a particular financing programme is covered by the InvestEU Fund.

How will the InvestEU Programme ensure geographical balance?

The InvestEU Programme was designed to ensure it benefits all Member States, irrespective of their size or the development of their financial market. The access through other financial partners – compared to EFSI – should allow the Fund to better serve local needs and to be complementary to other sources of EU funding under shared management. Technical assistance under the InvestEU Advisory Hub will address the specificities of cohesion countries markets and contribute to build up a project pipeline.

The opening of the guarantee to national and regional promotional banks aims to better address where the financing needs are and how best to serve them. Finally, the InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide comprehensive project development assistance. It will provide capacity building support to develop organisational capacity and facilitate market-making activities and the collaboration of sectoral actors. The aim is to create the conditions to expand the potential number of eligible recipients in nascent market segments, in particular where the small size of individual projects raises considerably the transaction cost at the project level.

What about State aid control?

State aid rules are essential to ensure effective competition, so that consumers and businesses get fair prices and wider choice in the Single Market. At the same time, in order to match our InvestEU objectives to address market failures and mobilise private investment, it has to be easy to link up Member State money – which may entail State aid and be subject to State aid rules – with EU funds managed centrally by the Commission, which do not constitute State aid.

To further streamline the State aid approval process for such joint funding, in June 2018 the Commission proposed an amendment to one of the Council Regulations governing EU State aid control. The Council adopted this amendment in November 2018. This revised Enabling Regulation allows the Commission, subject to certain conditions, to exempt Member State funding channelled through the InvestEU Fund or supported by the InvestEU Fund from the requirement to notify such interventions to the Commission prior to their implementation.

The funding from Member States would be declared compatible with EU State aid rules, as long as certain clear conditions are fulfilled. The Commission proposal thus ensures that State aid rules can help facilitate a seamless deployment of the InvestEU fund. This continues the spirit of the Juncker Commission, which has already made sure that 97% of State aid can be implemented without any involvement of the Commission.

Who will be accountable for the investments made?

The financial partners in InvestEU will be responsible for the financing and investment operations under the InvestEU Fund since their governing bodies take the final decision on the financing.

The Investment Committee, composed of independent external experts, will approve the use of the EU guarantee under the InvestEU Fund to support those operations ahead of the final decision by the financial partner.

What role will the European Parliament and Council play?

The European Parliament and the Council will oversee the implementation of the InvestEU Fund through annual reporting to the budgetary authority and through the discharge procedure.

They will also be present in the governance bodies of the programme – Member States in the Advisory Board, and a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament in the Steering Board.

The implementation of the InvestEU Programme will be evaluated through an interim and a retrospective evaluation. The conclusions of the evaluations will be communicated to the European Parliament and Council so that they can feed into the decision-making process in a timely manner.

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EU and Tunisia work to strengthen their Privileged Partnership

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There has been continued progress in the transition towards democracy in Tunisia in the last year, but this must be accompanied by equivalent economic and social progress to ensure that it can be sustained.

Ahead of the EU-Tunisia Association Council due to be held on 17 May, the EU has today published its latest report on developments in relations with Tunisia. The report describes the key aspects of the cooperation from the beginning of 2018 to March 2019.

‘We attach particular importance to our cooperation with Tunisia, built as it is on the foundation of our common history, shared values and mutual respect. Significant progress has been made in the last year within the framework of our Privileged Partnership. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the Tunisian people, and specifically to the future of its young people, in order to help establish lasting democratic rule of law and a safe and prosperous country’ , stated Federica Mogherini, High Representative/ Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

‘The EU has continued to deploy all its cooperation instruments to support our Tunisian partner. In 2018, this led to the adoption of a financial assistance package worth € 305 million, in the form of grants, which is the highest amount ever allocated to Tunisia under the European Neighbourhood Instrument. At the same time, working together with eight European and international financial institutions, I launched an unprecedented initiative in order to highlight the need for Tunisia to follow through on its commitments to socio-economic reforms as soon as possible, for the benefit of all Tunisians’, said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

The report is structured around the EU-Tunisia strategic priorities to be achieved by 2020, with the aim of describing in as much detail as possible the progress made in the Partnership’s priority areas. These priorities focus on inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development; young people, democracy, good governance and human rights; bringing peoples together, mobility and migration; as well as security and the fight against terrorism.

Since 2011, Tunisia has been transitioning towards democracy, making it a source of hope at regional level and beyond. Significant progress was made in 2018, particularly the holding of municipal elections in May 2018 with the full support of the EU, marking a key milestone in the decentralisation process. However, the report also notes that the transition can only be sustained if it is accompanied by social and economic progress on a similar scale. As a result, in this year of significant elections, it is vital to continue to make progress in implementing the strategic priorities of the EU-Tunisia Partnership and the EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership.

The report also notes that EU funding for cooperation has continued to strengthen the Privileged Partnership between the two parties. The intense work on EU-Tunisia relations over the last year resulted in an unprecedented financial commitment from the EU, using the Neighbourhood Instrument budget, totalling € 305 million in the form of grants for key sectors, such as support for innovation and start-ups, youth, energy efficiency, tourism diversification and the redevelopment of poorer neighbourhoods. In addition to this amount, there are also thematic lines and regional programmes.

The EU remains Tunisia’s main trading partner, and in 2018 it was the destination for three quarters of Tunisia’s exports and the source of over half of its imports. The EU is still the largest foreign investor in Tunisia, accounting for over 85 % of all direct foreign investment in the country, where there are more than 3 000 European companies employing over 300 000 people.

The main initiatives in 2018 include programmes to support competitiveness and exports, for both industry and agriculture, support for modernisation of the administration and tax reforms, as well as support to prepare for and reduce the risks of natural disasters. The impact and tangible results for citizens are central to the follow-up of these initiatives. 

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The European Union and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership

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The European Union is outlining its vision for a renewed partnership with Central Asia, updating its strategy on relations with the region first set out in 2007.

The new Joint Communication adopted today by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy sets out a fresh vision for a stronger partnership with the five countries of Central Asia: Kazakhstan; the Kyrgyz Republic; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; and Uzbekistan. It comes at a key moment of fast-developing Euro-Asian connectivity, reform and opening up in some of the countries of the region, and new momentum for regional cooperation.

Central Asia has always been a key region: for its history, for its culture, and for its role of connecting East and West. Today it is becoming more and more strategic, amid positive internal and regional dynamics, as well as increasing global challenges that demand a strengthened partnership”, said High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini. “Resilience and prosperity will be the pillars of our cooperation with Central Asia, of our support to sustainable development and reform processes, to the benefit of our citizens.

The Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added: “The European Union is a leading development partner for Central Asia, supporting the region with over €1 billion between 2014-2020 in areas such as the rule of law, environment, water, trade and border management. Through a renewed partnership, we want to strengthen our engagement with Central Asian partners to help them make the region more resilient, prosperous and better inter-connected.”

The Joint Communication proposes to focus future EU engagement on two aspects:

  • Partnering for resilience by strengthening Central Asian states’ capacity to overcome internal and external shocks and enhancing their ability to embrace reform;
  • Partnering for prosperity by supporting economic modernisation, promoting sustainable connectivity, and investing in youth.

In addition, the EU is determined to invest in regional cooperation in Central Asia, helping the countries of the region to promote dialogue and cooperation at their own pace.

Adding to the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that the European Union has signed with Kazakhstan, the EU intends to conclude negotiations on similar agreements with Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as to make the best possible use of its wider development assistance toolbox in the region.

In line with its Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia and using existing frameworks of cooperation, the EU will, where appropriate, establish partnerships on sustainable connectivity with countries of Central Asia, following market principles, guaranteeing transparency and based on international standards. Envisaged areas of cooperation include transport, energy and digital connections, as well as people-to-people contacts.

Given the critical interest that Central Asian countries have in the future of the country, the EU also intends to step up cooperation with Central Asian partners to promote peace in Afghanistan. Integrating Afghanistan as appropriate in relevant EU-Central Asia dialogue meetings and regional programmes, and supporting more regional and trilateral cooperation projects with Afghan and Central Asian partners, will therefore remain a priority.

Background information

The Joint Communication adopted today by the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will now be discussed in the Council and the European Parliament.

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini, together with Commissioner Mimica, intends to present formally the new EU Strategy on Central Asia to her Central Asian counterparts at the 15th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting, which will take place on 7 July in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.

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How the EU improves workers’ rights and working conditions

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The EU has put in place a set of labour rules to ensure strong social protection. They include minimum requirements on working conditions – such as working time, part-time work, workers’ rights – to information about important aspects of their employment and the posting of workers. They have become one of the cornerstones of Europe’s social policies.

The social partners – trade unions and employers organisations – are involved in the shaping of European social and employment policies via the so-called social dialogue, through consultations and opinions, and can also negotiate framework agreements on specific matters.

Workers’ rights and new forms of work

The EU has introduced minimum common standards on working hours applicable to all member states. EU legislation in the field of working time establishes individual rights for all workers, with a maximum working week of 48 hours, paid annual leave of at least four weeks per year, rest periods and rules on night work, shift work and patterns of work.

Over the years, Europe has witnessed significant changes in the labour market, including digitalisation and the development of new technologies, growing flexibility and fragmentation of work. These developments have generated new forms of employment, with an increase in temporary positions and non-standard jobs.

To protect all workers in the EU and improve the rights of the most vulnerable employees on atypical contracts, MEPs adopted in 2019 new rules introducing minimum rights on working conditions. The legislation sets protective measures such as limiting the length of the probationary period to six months, introducing free mandatory training and banning restrictive contracts. The rules also require that all new employees get key information on their responsibilities within a week of starting work.

The EU also wants workers to be involved in their company’s decision-making and has established a general framework for the rights of workers to be informed and consulted.

EU rules require that in the event of mass redundancies employers must negotiate with workers’ representatives.

At transnational level, employees are represented by European Works Councils. Through these bodies, workers are informed and consulted by management on any significant decision at EU level that could affect employment or working conditions.

Workers’ mobility within the EU

EU rules on the coordination of member states’ social security systems guarantee that people can fully benefit from their right to move to another EU country to study, work or settle whilst getting the social and health benefits they are entitled to. EU legislation covers sickness, maternity/paternity leave, family, unemployment and similar benefits and is currently under review.

IN 2019 MEPs approved plans to create a new EU agency, the European Labour Authority, which,  to assist member states and the European Commission in applying and enforcing EU law in the field of labour mobility and coordinating social security systems. The agency will be fully operational by 2023.

Employees can be sent by their companies to another EU country on a temporary basis to carry out specific tasks. In 2018, EU rules on the posting of workers were overhauled to ensure the principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place.

To tackle unemployment and better match labour market supply and demand across Europe, Parliament approved a new law to revamp the European Jobs Network (Eures) with an EU-wide database of job seekers and vacancies in 2016.

Workers’ health and safety

The EU adopts legislation in the field of health and safety at work to complement and support the activities of member states.

The European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work sets general principles related to minimum health and safety requirements. It applies to nearly all sectors of public and private activity and defines obligations for employers and employees.

Additionally, there are specific rules covering exposure to dangerous substances, groups of workers suchpregnant women and young workers, specific tasks such as the manual handling of loads and workplaces such as fishing vessels.

For example, the directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to carcinogens or mutagens at work is updated regularly, setting exposure limits for specific substances.

EU countries are free to set more stringent standards when transposing EU directives into national law.

With an ageing workforce, the risk of developing health problems has increased. In 2018, MEPs adopted a report proposing measures to facilitate people’s return to the workplace after long-term sick leave and to better include people who are chronically sick or have a disability in the workforce.

Promoting work-life balance and gender equality

The European Parliament has always been a strong defender of gender equality. To provide more equal opportunities for men and women and to encourage a better sharing of caring responsibilities, MEPs adopted in 2019 a set of new rules to allow parents and workers taking care of relatives with serious medical conditions so they could establish a better work-life balance.

The directive sets a minimum of 10 days of paternity leave, a minimum of four months’ parental leave per parent (of which two are not transferable) and five days of carers’ leave per year and provides for more flexible working arrangements.

Maternity rights are defined in the Pregnant Workers Directive, setting the minimum period for maternity leave at 14 weeks, with two weeks’ compulsory leave before and/or after confinement.

Parliament is also continuously pushing for more measures to combat the gender pay gap, narrow the pension gap and has called for EU rules to tackle mobbing and sexual harassment.

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