. Economic facts of EU countries in 2006
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II. Issues on the EU Agenda
In the first half of 2006, Austria will hold the Presidency for the second time since accession to the EU in 1995 and is following after the United Kingdom’s Presidency. It first held the Presidency in 1998. Austria will be followed by Finland on 1st July 2006.
The following issues are currently on the EU agenda:
Employment and social affairs
Employment and social policy are central to what is known as the ‘Lisbon agenda’ which is the EU policy framework for creating growth and jobs.
The European Employment Strategy
Common priorities and individual objectives for member states' employment policies, are set out in multi-annual Employment Guidelines agreed jointly by all member states. The current guidelines cover the period 2005-2008. They are part of the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs for 2005-2008, which also include economic management. The employment guidelines are the basis for national reform programmes and the employment component of the EU’s ‘Lisbon Programme’, which covers all EU action to promote knowledge and innovation, make Europe a more attractive place to invest and work, and create more and better jobs.
The Social Agenda
The 2005-2010 Agenda covers policies designed to provide jobs, fight poverty and promote equal opportunities for all. In partnership with public authorities at every level from local to national, employer and worker representatives, and non-governmental organisations, the Agenda is a framework for promoting portability of pension and social security entitlements in order to create a truly European labour market, getting more people – particularly young people and women – into work, updating labour law to reflect new forms of work, such as short-term contracts, and manage restructuring through social dialogue. It is also a framework for supporting member states in reforming pensions and health care, tackling poverty and the employment and social issues emerging as populations age, as well as fostering equal opportunities, inequality and discrimination.
Future financing of the Union
The agreement reached at the European Council in December 2005 provides the framework for the Union’s finances over the next financing period. This agreement now needs to be translated in close cooperation with the European Parliament into the necessary legal instruments. It will be for the two Presidencies to ensure that these legal acts are adopted as soon as possible in order to provide the basis for the financing of the Union’s policies over the period of 2007-2013.
In 2006 the monitoring of Bulgaria and Romania will be stepped up as part of the preparations for their accession scheduled for 2007. In addition, the accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey will be taken forward in accordance with the agreed negotiating frameworks.
III. EAPM news
Following an application for membership of EAPM by a Russian HR association HRMC-National Personnel Managers Union (the Union) a delegation from EAPM comprising Mike McDonnell, President, Hans Böhm, Secretary General and Tania Boyagiena, Executive Committee Member, visited Moscow. The delegation met with officials of the Union and with representatives of another prospective applicant. During the visit Hans and Mike spoke at a major conference of over 1,000 delegates organised by the Union in Moscow.
The EAPM delegation reported back to the Executive Committee meeting in Vienna in January 2006 and after an extensive debate it was decided to unanimously recommend to the Delegates’ Assembly in Paris in June 2006 that the Union be offered Associate Membership with the option of full membership after a two year period.
Israel has indicated its desire to become a Corresponding Member of EAPM (a form of membership for countries outside Europe). It was decided at the Executive Committee Meeting in Vienna to invite the Israeli HR association to make a presentation to the Delegates’ Assembly in Paris in June 2006.
Establishing EAPM as a brand
EAPM has a strong desire to play a much more influential role at both the macro and micro levels in Europe. Many obstacles prevent this from happening, principal amongst them being a serious lack of resources such as finance, personnel, etc. There is also the point that a strong EAPM could become a competitor of the very national associations that had created it. These are complex issues that require careful consideration and call ultimately for the creation of a clear vision of where EAPM can most effectively position itself. To progress the issue a number of action points were agreed at the Executive Committee meeting in Vienna in January 2006.
EAPM Business Plan
A Questionnaire was circulated to EAPM associations to ascertain how EAPM might be promoted as a brand. The findings are currently being analysed. It was decided at the meeting in Vienna to invest some of EAPM’s financial reserves in the preparation of a proper “Business Plan” for EAPM. The findings of the questionnaire will inform deliberations on the terms of reference. Hans Bohm, as Secretary General, is writing to relevant consulting firms to see if they are interested in tendering for the project.
When discussing the EAPM’s relationship with the EU it is becoming increasingly important to separate myth from reality. The reality is that EAPM has very limited financial resources, minimal secretariat, no research facilities, and no real track-record in organising pan–european activities. To oversell “EAPM”, as it is currently resourced, to the EU could be counter productive: we simply would not be able to deliver on commitments. That being said the EAPM does have potential, it represents 27 countries, its members focus on HR an area that is critical to Europe’s social and economic development and EAPM has the unique capacity to mainstream EU initiatives in people management and development. Equally, EAPM could play an important role in advising the EU on good practise in people management.
The implementation of an effective business plan for EAPM coupled with the establishment of sustainable income streams are essential if we are to realise our EU aspirations.
As an initial step EAPM is to seek a meeting with key EU officials in the Labour Affairs area DG5 to introduce ourselves and discuss possible areas of cooperation and association. This course of action was agreed at the Vienna meeting and Mike McDonnell, as EAPM President, will contact DG5 with a view to initiating such a meeting.
EAPM Bi Annual Conference
The EAPM bi-Annual Conference should be a major flagship event focusing on the key strategic issues facing HR practitioners. It should become a “must attend” event for European people management and development professionals. This will take at least three conferences to achieve, starting with Ireland in 2005, Austria in 2007 and Holland in 2009. The initial indicators are positive, the Conference in Ireland in 2005 was a good success in terms of content and financial return and with one third of the delegates coming from abroad it was a genuine “European” event.
Organising the Conference poses major challenges which many national associations are not, at present, in a position to meet and serious consideration should be given to the idea of finding a “permanent home” or contracting–out/tendering the event to an association with the resources and expertise to undertake such a major and risky project, this may offer the best opportunity of providing a sustainable income stream for EAPM.
Criteria for Selecting EAPM President
A present the EAPM Presidency is held by the national association that organises the bi-Annual Conference. This limits the number of countries /individuals who are eligible for consideration as President. The EAPM is currently examining the feasibility of de-coupling the Presidency from the Bi-Annual conference.