[Excerpt] This annual review on Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) brings together for the first time a comprehensive analysis of challenges facing the EU in the areas of both employment and social policy. Replacing two previous reports - Employment in Europe and the Social Situation Report, the ESDE becomes the European Commission’s flagship analytical review on employment and social issues. It builds on the Quarterly Reviews of the EU Employment and Social Situation which the Commission has started producing in 2011 and provides detailed analysis of key structural developments. The 2011 edition focuses on changes in Europe’s job structure, recent increases in income inequalities, the varying patterns of poverty and social exclusion, the problem of in-work poverty, challenges and measures in the area of active ageing, and provides an updated analysis of intra-EU labour mobility.
The integrated approach which the Commission has applied in preparation of the review corresponds to the Europe 2020 strategy. This is a long-term development strategy which sees social inclusion, the fight against poverty, greater labour market participation, employment and job quality as essential elements for Europe’s prosperity. Europe 2020 emphasizes that the objectives of smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth are mutually reinforcing and sets economic, employment and social policies on an equal footing. This approach also underpins the Europe 2020 Integrated Guidelines and the country-specific recommendations adopted by the European Council in June 2011. Nearly all social challenges have a strong labour market dimension, for example the problem of in-work poverty. At the same time, social policy plays a very important role in improving employment outcomes, e.g. as regards the inclusion of disadvantaged people or active ageing.