Portrait of an auto mechanic at work on a car in his garageThe European economy is creating jobs again. There’s still a long way to go, but the unemployment rate across the EU is at its lowest rate since 2009, with only 8.6% of Europeans unable to find work (compared to a jobless rate of 10.9% in 2013). Eurozone unemployment is higher (10.1%), but still at its lowest level since 2011.

But what kind of jobs are they? We had a comment sent in by Lino, who pointed out that job creation doesn’t matter if people have low wages, poor working conditions, and contracts with poor job security. So, how can we ensure that economic growth delivers high-quality jobs?

We recently had the chance to put Lino’s question to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Here’s what he had to say:

jean-claude-junckerIt’s a competence of national member states and not so much of the EU Commission but, having been a minister of labour for 17 years, I’m very sensitive to this question. That’s why we launched, during the mandate of this commission, a broad consultation for a pillar of minimum social rights for workers. I do believe that flexibility is, from time-to-time, sometimes necessary. But over the last 20 years, there has been a poison in our social relationships nationally and from a European point of view, and that is that sometimes blind flexibility was introduced into labour relations.

My father was a steelworker. If he had been confronted with labour contracts having to be renewed every 6 months, having no security at all as far as the planning of the material part of his life was concerned, I would not have been able to go to university. So, I’m very sensitive to this problem of precariousness… Enterprises and companies ask for security. Workers have to have security too.

How can we make sure the economy creates decent jobs? Are low-quality jobs better than no jobs at all? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Copyright / BigStockPhoto – Minerva Studio

40 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Paul X

    Nice “Non-answer” from Juncker…….So his commission have done a consultation for minimum workers rights, yet he accepts that flexibility in the workforce is required… but maybe we are now too flexible…and his dad would not have liked being flexible…..so exactly what is his position?

    • avatar
      Chalks Corriette

      I feel that we should be migrating the rights of individuals to belong to individuals and not companies. A company is there to deliver a service to customers and they have no control about what the customer or economy will do. If governments and individuals looked at new ways of managing individual rights, and then hold business and organizations to account for funding these rights, we might actually make more headway. It should not let business off treating people well and offering secure and livable pay. We just need to examine the problem in a new light as the world is changing rapidly and we need business as unusual to meet this rapdliy changing world. As an example, why must my salary dictate if my child is capable of university? If talented, all youth should be educated to their best possible ability. We need to be more creative in solving the right problems.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I appreciate your opinion CC, and we often hear about how companies should be more responsible towards employees, pay them more and as you say, treat them as individuals
      But there are two sides to every coin, the prime concern of a business is to not make a loss or else it goes under and everyone loses their job then neither party wins
      This boils down to the old Left wing/Right wing argument that has gone on since the dawn of time..The left claiming big businesses abuse and treat their workers like slaves whilst the right claim the workers want to screw as much out of the company for doing as little as possible……and it’s an argument that will probably never end
      Personally I consider myself a realist and believe employees need to be realistic about their expectations. I know the lefties love to rant about “big businesses and corporations” as if there is some great overarching entity making billions in profits just to please millionaire shareholders, but the fact is around 2/3 of EU employment is in SME’s which generally have tight margins and cannot afford to pander to every demand from their employees. Everyone would like a bigger wage but if that is at the expense of someone else’s job is that right?

    • avatar

      @Paul x, the argument is only valid if the company is employing people unwilling to properly contribute in terms of output. My counter argument is that someone going to work with the intention or attitude to slack off should be at risk of losing their job for it. Companies should be able to expect a reasonable amount of effort from their staff but fairly pay their staff and also reward them in other ways, such as understanding of legitimate time off (maternity, infrequent short term illness or due to a legitimately caused occasional long term illness. Such as broken bones as a result of an accident etc.). I think it’s wrong that companies are being stripped of their rights in favour of workers rights. We now have a situation that doesn’t encourage hard work, commitment and dedication. If someone comes from an agency and works well enough to get offered full time work, then once they’ve secured a contract their productivity drops off a company has no grounds to sack them for this. Frankly the system needs to be put in what you get out. Anyone going to work and purposefully underperforming puts a strain on the rest of the staff, and on the businesses viability. But, a company also needs to treat it’s staff as human beings, respecting their need to earn their keep in society as well as their occasional needs to be able to recover from/deal with illness or temporary circumstances in their home life. Make it impossible for companies to remove dead weight and everyone relying on that business is at risk, not to mention how that stunts prospective growth. It isn’t about left/right wing politics, it’s about pragmatic fairness for all concerned.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      To be honest Duncan, I don’t see an argument here..I agree with everything you say

  2. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    il lavoro non può essere concentrato in un solo Paese creando alta disoccupazione nei Paesi limitrofi e per questa ragione serve una economia tarata in base alla struttura economica di ciascun Paese . Una volta fatto questo devono partire interventi a DEFICIT dallo Stato , non dal capitale estero che in ogni momento può decidere di andarsene da un’altra parte e in questo modo ricatta i lavoratori che sono costretti a lavorare molte ore al giorno per pochi denari e senza tutele . Investimenti statali a deficit per creare posti di lavoro su ciascun Paese .Quando la disoccupazione è vicina o pari allo zero su ciascun Paese , quella è la misura, il deficit giusto .

    the job can not be concentrated in any one country, creating high unemployment in neighboring countries and for this reason need a calibrated economy based on the economic structure of each country. Once this is done must start interventions DEFICIT by the State, not by the foreign capital that at any time can decide to go somewhere else, and in this way blackmails workers who are forced to work long hours for little money and without protections. state investment in deficits to create jobs on each country .When unemployment is close or equal to zero on each country, that is the measure, the right deficits

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Stefania Portici
      Nice ideas BUT what neighbouring countries created high unemployment in Spain or Greece?

  3. avatar

    1 – by valuing EVERY job, EVERY occupation, be it a banker or a street sweeper.
    2 – by eliminating the “race to the bottom” that only benefits the oligarchs.
    That is the key. Now, let us all contribute and figure out how to do it.

    • avatar
      Chalks Corriette


  4. avatar
    Leonardo Monteiro

    By diminishing the work hours, and adopt a 30hours labour week… it would increase productivity and people would have more free time wish would enable to live better lives and invest there time in other valuable things that would very probably creat jobs. Besides we should invest in industries that produce more quality goods, as those goods usually take more time and people to make enabling once again the creation of jobs, reducing pollution and waste, as those goods would last longer, and would incentivize people to produce this products in countries that protect labors rights and protect the environment.

    An economy for everyone and not for a few.

    • avatar

      All nice ideas, non of them practicable. A 30 hour week would reduce incomes. Companies would either require staff to do compulsory overtime or lose their job, or need a loophole. Taking on more staff costs more than getting more hours out of each member of personnel. So busy periods would need longer working hours or orders would go into backlog or be defaulted upon. Both are bad for business and therefore job security. We live in a world of fast paced technological improvements, computers and processing equipment in particular become obsolete more often than they become irreparable, ut we also live in a consumerist system. We are sold things that will fail in order to encourage us to replace them. Just look at an old Mercedes compared to a new one. A 20 year old car should not go longer without requiring replacement parts than a newer vehicle of the same manufacturer, but they do. They do so Mercedes can make money selling parts, and since they’ve made failsafes to prevent home repairs you have to pay for Mercedes labour charges fitting those parts too. Eventually devaluation will mean you’ll grow tired of repairing and buy a brand new Mercedes, starting the process again and keeping Mercedes profits up. This is just one example company, but there are many. That expression “they don’t make them like they used to” is as true as it is deliberate.

    • avatar
      Chalks Corriette

      Some nice ideas and many have been spoken about. The only way for them to be workable, is for the world to re-think how we run individual rights, how we see society, how we manage costs of essential services or offering of essential services. Basically, we need to change the narritive and solve a whole heap of other related items for this to be a reality. And, we could do it if we just put our minds to it and get support from those key policy makers….

    • avatar

      @chalks, the policy makers will never go for it, some out of fear of the new system, some because that big fat bribe they just got, some because of pressure from certain individuals and/or groups. And the few that would go for it would lose the debate.

  5. avatar
    Brian Wadie

    you can’t, the economy can’t “create jobs”, that’s the role of individuals and businesses. The politicians can use our money, collected through taxes to create jobs but that is nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with politics. I’d love to see how you define “Decent Jobs” by the way. Once more you are tying to boost your figures not provide a forum for uselful discussion

  6. avatar
    Peter Nicko'lay Canseeheart

    … First of all, we must look at this thing as a family. Human’s family. Or as a community. When we know our family we can move – we know what to do and what not to do. The more a man or subjective community are far from Good, which is an absolute truth, the more jobs in it are not decent. So, what is Good? A respect of needs and obligations. If we know someone, we give it a job. If we know it (him/her) less, we give less of a job. How much education we must create? Relationships and own decision form the different possitions. We must be able to count the given energy and the possible to be given. These things are of course hapenning- evolving or backwarding. So, its relative. There is a forever lasting their and Good is with a better, the only potential actually. The other is self-destroying- no matter about internal or external self destructions we speak about. Not only the way of working must count about what one is working. Personal effords for this world are also in the math of things. So. Respect, opportunity to check, secure, be pleasured, to create, manage or destroy. Those are the things that form decent jobs. The more we know also about the potential of nature, the better. That way we know who is spamming and who is not. The word “will” is a part of the basics. Have we been fully progressed if life could have started from zero? What do brings it to dust or tops? And etc.

  7. avatar
    Maria Helena Neto

    We will have to have a fair contract between labour and enterprises. Decent jobs only exist if we have serious people contracting in both sides.

  8. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    By not starting a trade war with the EU’s biggest customer when Great Britain leaves.

    But the lunatics in Brussels will.

  9. avatar
    Anti-EU Citizen

    By dropping the € and returning to national currenties

  10. avatar
    Stephen A Savva

    The article wrongly claims that ‘the unemployment rate across the EU is at it’s lowest rate since 2009’. Not true. In some EU countries the unemployment rate has gone down, whilst in others it has risen.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Stephen A Savva
      I think I agree with you; however, if DE has statistical proof regarding its ‘fact’ then it would be nice to see same.

  11. avatar

    By ensuring wages meet a suitable lifestyle cost for the job in question, and by implementing and enforcing good workers rights. This must include laws preventing some in a company getting larger financial increases proportionately than others (after wage rates have been set right to begin with obviously). This will stop wage gaps from increasing to unreasonable levels ever again. When a CEO earns €30,000 a month and a cleaner earns €1,500 a month, a pay rise of 1% equates to an extra €15 for the cleaner, hardly noticeable really. Whereas the CEO would get an extra €300 a month. That’s a sizeable increase, so why should the cleaner (and all the other low skilled employees of a company) have to take a 0.8% pay increase just so the CEO can get a 5% increase? This type of thing is what has caused the wealth gap to stretch to breaking point. It needs reversing, then it needs preventing in the future.

  12. avatar
    Max Bliss

    Heavily regulate and actually tax corporations… Limit foreign imports to 40% of the products available in the EU… Better still return to sovereign nations and expel central banks, IMF, World Bank, UN etc… Return to independent sovereign states, issue own currency and jail the Banksters.

  13. avatar
    Lino Galveias

    Giving value to every work and regulation of the labour market. More training, considering workers’ opinions….

  14. avatar
    Danny Boy

    I can’t help but think what a tragedy it was for us all,that Junker never followed his father into the steel industry.

  15. avatar
    Haris Iasonas Haralabides

    By supporting the right of individuals to make free choices and allow those who create wealth to do what they do best. Lower taxes, free market forces, reduce the size of states.

  16. avatar
    Tim Nick Knight

    Start by ending the dominance of America in our economy. They control all the tech… Google/Amazon/Ebay/ Facebook, etc.etc. They control the lions share new ventures. America!ns are leading even in battery tech, automated driving etc. Time for more RnD , and protecting our market

  17. avatar
    Andre Lopes

    Não entendo, outra vez…. essa pergunta é para europeus de primeira ou para os de segunda? http://www.dn.pt/dinheiro/interior/despedimento-individual-esta-mais-facil-para-33-dos-patroes-5318985.html vosso estudo (BCE) indica que a Troika tornou o despedimento mais fácil. E mesmo fora do tema dos “jobs for the boys” a UE continua a persistir no erro. O erro burocrático. O erro que acho que vai ser o vosso calcanhar de Aquiles. O erro de aplicar a formula numa lógica completamente inversa. Contribuíram para a perca de rendimento laboral, para a precariedade. É simples é reverter a tendência.

  18. avatar
    Alasdair Michael Skeil

    Stop governments intervening in the labour market, scrap government subsidies for inefficient production, allow free trade everywhere

  19. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    It is obvious. Scrap all benefits and pensions and give a guaranteed minimum income. With more spending money local niche jobs can be created and flourish. From Gyms, hobbies, health, beauty and many more niche markets. This will also create new jobs from the job pool already there by people retiring earlier and from parents staying home with their children for longer if they wish. People could pay off their mortgages quicker or have more money to spend back into the economy on experiences that will boost trade from restaurants, to day trips out etc. The corporation monopolies that exist via public spending for food and personal care, insurance etc is saturated. You need people to have more money and new ways to spend it locally.

    • avatar

      I don’t think you’ve thought this through properly. The amount of money earned is totally immaterial. My dad used to earn £5 per week when he left school. When I left school I was on £125 per week. I now earn roughly £350 per week. I must say my earnings don’t go any further than they did when I was on £125 per week, and from the way my father used to speak, he did better on £5 per week than I ever have on my wages. Money is fickle, the more of it there is the less it’s worth. Greed has replaced the human imperative for self improvement/improving the situation for your community and family. This is the key problem with our society and our economy.

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