The spring 2003 European Council approved the establishment of the European Employment Task Force to undertake an independent examination of employment policy and to identify practical reform measures that can have an immediate impact on the ability of member states to implement the European employment strategy. The report of the taskforce was presented to the European Commission in November 2003.
The report is useful in that it presents an independent view of the issues facing the EU in terms of employment policy. The issues raised and the recommendations made complement and reinforce the messages already made in the context of the European employment strategy.
The European Council had a first discussion on the report in December 2003 and underlined that employment will be one of the central aspects of the 2004 spring European Council. The recommendations of the report have been integrated in the joint employment report and are central to the ongoing deliberative process being undertaken in preparation for the spring European Council. The joint employment report provides an assessment of the progress made in implementing the European employment strategy and outlines the future actions-directions that need to be taken by member states.
The revitalisation of the Lisbon Agenda as a whole, with particular reference to the employment aspect, is central to Ireland's Presidency work programme. The joint employment report, which incorporates the Employment Task Force report, will feature on the agenda of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council and the European Council in March, where I expect that concrete decisions in taking the process forward will be made.