At the Brussels summit on 10 and 11 December 1993, the heads of State and government endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the White Paper. They included “‘developing employment in connection with meeting new requirements linked to the quality of life and protection of the environment”‘ in the list of measures to be undertaken at national level. They also called on the Commission “‘to study the question of new sources of jobs”‘ as part of the follow-up procedure provided for.
On 24 and 25 June 1994 in Corfu, the heads of State and government noted that, “‘with regard to developing new employment in connection with meeting new requirements linked to the quality of life and protection of the environment, a number of initiatives have been taken but many of the new areas of job growth that were identified in the White Paper remain to be exploited.”‘ They underlined “‘the importance of the study to be prepared by the Commission before the next European Council on this subject.”‘ Following initiatives taken by the Portuguese, Irish and Danish governments, the Council added that it “‘considers that local development initiatives offer considerable potential for reinforcing the economic and social fabric of the European Union and for creating jobs. They are an essential element of the new model of development mentioned in the White Paper and will help to preserve cultural diversity within the Union.”‘ The Commission was assigned a new brief: “‘to draw up, within the framework of the report on new potential sources of employment to be submitted to the European Council in Essen, a detailed inventory of the various actions at Community level to foster local development and local employment initiatives, particularly those concerning micro-enterprises and handicraft industries. This inventory will be accompanied by the proposals deemed necessary to enhance the consistency and the effectiveness of those actions.”‘
The Commission therefore presented the much awaited report at the Council meeting in Essen on 9 and 10 December 1994 and put forward a framework and coordination scheme for national employment policies. The new sources of employment rightly had their place in the section on increasing the employment-intensiveness of growth: “‘finally, the promotion of initiatives, particularly at regional and local level, that create jobs which take account of new requirements, e.g. in the environmental and social-services spheres.”‘ However, the report hardly generated more reaction than the supporting reports presented by the three governments, since its conclusions only mentioned the fact that “‘The European Council also noted the experience of Denmark, Ireland and Portugal in developing a framework at national level and structures and procedures at local level, in order to support an integrated concept for development at local level.”‘
At Cannes on 26 and 27 June 1995, the Council noted “‘with satisfaction the Commission’s reports on the development of local employment initiatives. It further emphasised “‘the importance it attaches to the development of local employment initiatives, in particular in the field of services linked with the environment and living standards, crafts and traditional products. It takes note of the Commission communication on the subject. It places emphasis on the need to disseminate initiatives undertaken at national level.”‘ It expected “‘the communication to be examined by the Council on Social Affairs and Labour, which will submit a report to the Madrid European Council.”‘
In Madrid, the European Council took note of a short document drawn up by the Labour and Social Affairs Council which, while acknowledging the value added of Community action in this area, recommended cooperation between Member States in the form of exchanges of good practice. The conclusions of the summit on 15 and 16 December 1995 accordingly listed “‘promoting local employment initiatives”‘ as one of the eight priorities for the multiannual employment programmes.
The European Council meeting in Florence on 21 and 22 June 1996 marked the launch of the territorial and local employment pacts. Their relationship with the LDEIs is clearly established in one long paragraph of the conclusions: “‘In order to promote a common effort in local job creation and development, the European Council invites each Member State, where possible, to select regions or cities which could act as candidates for pilot projects on territorial and local employment pacts, with a view to implementing such pacts in the course of 1999. (…) In this context, the Council looks forward to the conclusions of the Conference on Local Employment Initiatives being held by the Irish Presidency in November next.”‘
Meeting in Dublin on 13 and 14 December 1996, the European Council therefore reissued strong recommendations on the subject, with no major surprise. On the one hand, it recalled that “‘efforts to modernise the markets for goods and services and exploit new sources of employment should be intensified. (…) The fields of environmental protection and social services offer particularly promising prospects in this context.”‘ On the other hand, it took into account part of the recommendations made in a new Commission report specially commissioned for the Irish conference: “‘Local development should be promoted by:
– recognising the potential for stimulating employment growth, especially in new forms of work, targeting more effectively the needs of the unemployed and supporting the establishment and development of new businesses through vibrant local economies (…)
– promoting an exchange of best practice and experience in this domain (…)
mobilising the resources and contribution of all relevant actors, including public authorities and the social partners at local level. In this context, the European Council notes that many Member States have been developing the capacity of local communities to participate actively in their own development and welcomes the positive reactions concerning the development of Territorial Employment Pacts, as proposed by the Commission.”‘
While the conclusions of the Amsterdam summit, which mentioned neither LDEIs nor new sources of employment, marked a pause in this long development, the extraordinary European Council meeting on employment held in Luxembourg on 20 and 21 November 1997 went some way towards institutionalising them in the “‘Employment guidelines for 1998″‘. Quite judiciously, it granted them a place in the “‘second pillar”‘ on developing entrepreneurship: “‘Exploiting the opportunities for job creation: if the European Union wants to deal successfully with the employment challenge, all possible sources of jobs and new technologies and innovations must be exploited effectively. To that end the Member States will investigate measures to exploit fully the possibilities offered by job creation at local level in the social economy and in new activities linked to needs not yet satisfied by the market, and examine, with the aim of reducing, any obstacles in the way of such measures.”‘
Some amendments were made to the guidelines for 1999 adopted by the Council on 22 February 1999, making them more proactive – for example “‘will investigate measures”‘ was replaced by “‘will promote measures”‘ – and defining more clearly the role played by the local authorities and social partners.
For the year 2000, the guidelines have been further refined as follows: “‘If the European Union wants to deal successfully with the employment challenge, all possible sources of jobs and new technologies and innovations must be exploited effectively. To that end the Member States will promote measures to exploit fully the possibilities offered by job creation at local level and in the social economy, especially in new activities linked to needs not yet satisfied by the market, and examine, with the aim of reducing, any obstacles in the way of such measures. In this respect, the special role and responsibility of partners at the regional and local levels, as well as the social partners, needs to be more fully recognised and supported. In addition, the role of the Public Employment Services in identifying local employment opportunities and improving the functioning of local labour markets, should be fully exploited.”‘ These recommendations quite closely reflect the conclusions of the second report on LDEIs, which called on local employment services and structures to become genuine partners in a proactive local strategy.