The globalisation of politics and the economy requires constant monitoring of international developments. This is also of great importance with regard to those areas of policy pursued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW).
The mission of the Ministry is to promote employment, modern labour relations and an activating social security system. The Ministry pursues this mission internationally as well as nationally.
In the EU context, the balance between economic growth and social protection has been the main theme of ministerial policy through the years. As Europe becomes more closely integrated, national policy is becoming an increasingly important element of EU policy. Important policy issues such as working conditions, unemployment, social inclusion and pensions are not the exclusive domain of national policy anymore, but are high on the European agenda as well. As a result of the enlargement of the Union, national social policies have to be viewed in an expanding European context.
Migration and enlargement
The Netherlands adheres to the principle of selective labour migration, the aim of which is to protect the Dutch labour market against (cheap) workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). This is regulated by the Dutch Act on the Employment of Foreigners. Labour supplies from the EEA are given priority. Employers may employ workers from outside the EEA only if there are no suitable workers within the EEA, in which case employers can obtain work permits.
The EU 2020 strategy
In 2010, the European Union (EU) introduced the 2020 Strategy as a follow-up to the Lisbon Strategy. The EU 2020 Strategy focuses on the promotion of sustainable, inclusive and smart growth, i.e. growth that is driven by knowledge and innovation. The aim of this strategy is to opull the European Union out of the economic crisis at a faster rate and achieve a high level of employment, social cohesion and productivity.
These priorities have been distilled into five headline targets and ten guidelines on the basis ofwhich the member states must determine their own national goals which will accomplish the EU 2020 Strategy by 2020.
The five headline targets for 2020 are:
- The employment participation rate to be increased from 69% to 75%;
- R&D expenditure to be increased from 1.9% to 3% of GDP;
- The 20/20/20 objectives: CO2 emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- School drop-out rates to be reduced to 10% and the percentage of 30-40 year olds
- completing third level education to be increased to 40%;
- The number of people in or at risk of poverty to be reduced by at least 20 million.
More information, including relevant Dutch reports and documents can be found on http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm.