The Employment Committee (EMCO) was created in 2000, by a Council Decision on the basis of Art.150 of the TFEU. The latest Council decision in force dates from 2015.
EMCO operates within the policy framework of the European Employment Strategy and – as set out in Art. 148 TFEU – plays a key role in the European Semester.
EMCO is the advisory committee for Employment and Social Affairs Ministers in the Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) to promote the coordination of employment and labour market policies both at European and national level.
With the exception of July and August, EMCO meets every month of the year and holds regular discussions and policy exchanges with other key stakeholders such as European and national social partners (trade unions and employers) and the PES network and organisations such as the OECD and Eurofound.
EMCO also meets and closely cooperates with other Council preparatory bodies (especially the Social Protection Committee, the Economic Policy Committee and the Education Committee) to discuss issues of joint interest.
Organisation and working methods
EMCO is composed of two members from each Member State and the Commission.
EMCO elects a chairperson who holds office for a two-year period (renewable once).
The Chairperson is advised by a steering group. It consists of four Vice-Chairpersons (the Chairs of the EMCO sub-groups and representatives of the current and incoming Presidency of the Council of the EU), the Commission, the Secretary of the Committee and the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU.
The EMCO Secretariat is provided by the Commission through a team of officials who support the work of the committee and organise EMCO meetings.
Twice a year – typically in March and September – dedicated EMCO meetings are hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
EMCO has two sub-groups:
- The Policy Analysis Group (PAG) provides evidence-based advice to underpin EMCO work and debate.
- The Indicators Group (IG) carries out the technical work on the indicators which are used in monitoring the EU employment strategy.
Every year, EMCO adopts its Annual Work Programme, taking into account the policy priorities of the European Council, the Council and the Commission.
Once adopted, the programme is transmitted to the Council.
EMCO’s work programme covers four main areas:
- the European Semester (including multilateral surveillance);
- thematic work;
EMCO’s work, in particular concerning benchmarking and monitoring/reporting, is supported by the EMCO Indicators group, which has its own Work Programme linked to the main priorities of EMCO and EMCO PAG and providing input to their activities.
EMCO main outputs
European Semester: strategic documents
A core element of EMCO's work is centred around advising ministers on matters related to the employment, skills and social policy dimensions of the European Semester, as per Art. 148 TFEU. Notably, EMCO:
- whenever proposed by the Commission, formulates opinions on the Employment Guidelines and its annual revisions;
- in autumn/winter, prepares EPSCO Council Conclusions to be adopted by EPSCO ministers on the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy and on the Joint Employment Report after its text is agreed between EPSCO committees and the Commission;
- in spring, discusses the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) proposed by the Commission in the EMCO-relevant domains and prepares the CSRs for adoption by the Council in June/July;
- in late spring, provides an opinion to the EPSCO Council on the overall functioning and governance of the Semester and the implementation of CSRs issued in the previous Semester cycle and assessed as part of the EMCO multilateral surveillance process.
European Semester: Multilateral surveillance
Since 2011, EMCO has pioneered work on monitoring Member States progress in implementing reforms within the Semester and working towards the EU2020 targets and now the 2030 targets.
This process is known as multilateral surveillance (MLS) and relies on a number of tools:
- Reviews of national reforms: each Semester cycle, between November and April, EMCO conducts a number of reviews of Member State policy initiatives to tackle challenges identified in the CSRs issued by the Council at the end of the previous Semester cycle.
These reviews play an important role in allowing the Commission and the Member States to assess to assess the implementation of past Council recommendations. Results of the annual MLS reviews.
- the Joint Assessment Framework (JAF) is an analytical tool based on a set of commonly agreed indicators showing good and bad performance towards the main Europe 2020 targets.
- the Employment Performance Monitor (EPM) is a joint Commission-EMCO report summarising the JAF assessment and the key challenges it identifies. It is adopted every October by the Council by the EPSCO Council in the form of EMCO Annual Employment Performance Reports summarising the main findings of the EPM.
As part of its regular activities, EMCO also carries out thematic reviews, some of which in the past have fed into the preparation of Council Conclusions and Commission policy initiatives.
In-depth thematic reviews form a key Committee instrument, helping Member States learn from one another and engaging them in multilateral discussions on successful measures addressing policy challenges in the areas of employment, social protection and social inclusion.
EMCO also has an important role in monitoring the implementation of the Council Recommendations on the Youth Guarantee and on Long-term unemployment through a combination of reviews of the progress of individual Member States towards the objectives of the guarantee and an agreed indicator framework for both youth and long-term unemployment.
- EMCO participates and contributes to the Macroeconomic Dialogue (Cologne process).
- EMCO and the Social Protection Committee have contributed to the work on the European Pillar of Social Rights.
- EMCO provides thematic opinions to the Council, or prepares Council conclusions, upon request of the Presidency or on its own initiative.
If you have questions about EMCO and its operation, please contact the EMCO Secretariat.