The special European Union summit in Lisbon has committed member states to wide-ranging action to promote employment, focusing on boosting the IT sector.
Heads of government pledged to raise the EU employment rate from 61 per cent to 70 per cent by 2010, increasing the number of women in work from 51 per cent to more than 60 per cent by 2010.
The council decided to:
• Establish a Europe-wide database on jobs and learning opportunities,
• Promote programmes to enable unemployed people to fill skill gaps,
• Encourage on-the-job training, through flexible management of working time and job rotation.
The council said a European award for particularly progressive firms was planned and a benchmarking system would be introduced, enabling companies to measure their performance in promoting training.
The summit agreed a package promoting IT employment, including the pledging of up to £10bn of loans from the European Investment Bank for R&D projects.