[Excerpt] This year’s Employment in Europe Report appears at a difficult time. After the strong, even dramatic, improvements in Europe’s job creation performance over the past 5 years, we face serious uncertainties about our economic and employment performance.
We do not see any immediate risk of repeating the experiences of the mid-1990s slowdown, when our employment rate fell to little more than 60 per cent, and unemployment rose above 11 per cent. But we do see some worsening in unemployment in the short-term. And we recognise the uncertainties about consumer and business expectations, on which an early recovery partly depends.
We know that, in the past, our European economies and labour markets were insufficiently robust to shake off the effects of adverse external shocks. So they were unable to put us quickly back onto a path of consistent growth, and high employment, when difficulties came.
Today we are better placed to face such challenges. The successful introduction of the euro — which brushed aside all the unfounded pessimistic predictions — has given a new impetus to Europe’s economy. And the development of the European Employment Strategy has contributed to much needed structural reforms, and improved employment performance.