Long-term unemployment has gained increasing EU attention in recent years with the Commission attributing it as a main cause of persistent poverty. This focus culminated in the EU Council adopting the Commission's Proposal for a Recommendation on the integration of LTU into the labour market in February 2016. The recommendation sets out steps that Member States and the EU Commission should take to improve the situation for LTU in Europe.

What’s the impetus at the EU level?
The 2016 Council recommendation puts forward three key steps:

  • encouraging the registration of LTU with an employment service;
  • providing each registered LTU with an individual in-depth assessment to identify their needs and potential;
  • offering a job integration agreement to all registered LTU at the very latest at 18 months.

The hope is that these steps, along with single access points to services, will lead to better access to support in member states. Following the recommendation, the European Commission launched a public consultation in May 2018 on "integration of LTU into the labour market". The aim of this consultation was to gather views on the measures proposed in the Council Recommendation, and on their implementation, as well as to shed light on future possible action to support the LTU.

European Social Network (ESN): bridging the gap between local and EU level
When the Commission launched its public consultation on the integration of LTU, ESN polled its members and responded to bring the local perspective to the EU level. ESN members generally welcomed the EU focus on LTU as it increased funding opportunities to help secure their entry into the labour market. ESN members also highlighted in their responses the importance of a single point of contact, in-depth individual assessments and the need for integrated services. Integration of services has also received specific attention from the European Commission as an important factor in dealing with LTU.

Integration of services: a key aspect
In October 2018, the European Commission published the “Study on integrated delivery of social services aiming at the activation of minimum income recipients in the labour market - success factors and reform pathways”. This report explores the drivers and barriers to effective and efficient reforms to improve the coordination between employment services and social services for minimum income recipients. Better coordination between different services and single access points to these services can improve the effectiveness of support for LTU. One example of good practice that highlights this comes from the ESTI@ project carried out by ESN member the City of Athens.

ESTI@ is 80% funded by the EU and improves access to services by creating single access points in one-stop centres where all services are integrated. A new role has been created in this project of “case manager” who help coordinate service users’ access to needed social services to improve accessibility. This helps to improve access for LTU as they have a point of contact at the service centre who knows how to navigate employment and social services systems. ESTI@ was one of the projects presented at the ESN inclusive activation seminar in Vienna.

ESN’s seminar on Inclusive Activation
Activation of those furthest from the labour market, such as LTU, was the focus of ESN’s most recent event in Vienna, Austria on 5-6 November. This event brought together over 150 delegates from across Europe to share best practice and discuss the best way to ensure labour market activation for all. By February 2019 we will publish our follow up report from the ESN seminar on Inclusive Activation. This report will include recommendations on how social services can promote the social inclusion of those furthest from the labour market and we encourage you to read it when it is published.

DG EMPL - Long-term unemployment
DG EMPL - Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2018
Public consultation on integration of long-term unemployed into the labour market
Study on integrated delivery of social services aiming at the activation of minimum income recipients in the labour market - success factors and reform pathways
ESN Practice – ESTI@ Project