|The Courier N° 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)|
|The European social area|
The Community in 1993
In a years time, the Community will enter a decisive phase in its construction, with the effective creation of the Single Market and, most notably, the abolition of internal frontiers. It will lead to a considerable change in the daily life of the Community citizen. While for a number of years, industrialists, bankers and certain other professions have enjoyed the positive advantages of the lowered internal frontiers, this has not been the case for other categories of profession, notably in the social area.
It was for this reason that, in conformity with the aims of the Single Act, the Commission put in place a social base which was intended to set out minimum Community norms in the framework of the social area of the Single Market of 1993. This social area of the Single Market, which is the name of the programme presented by the Commission in 1988, is based on various considerations. On the administrative side, for example, it appeared to be impossible to draw a neat dividing line between the national and Community levels of competence. By the same token, working conditions in the different Member States are set out in legislation and in collective agreements negotiated by the social partners. The proportion of legislative provisions and collectively agreed measures varies somewhat from one country to another, and these differences could not be abolished without difficulty. Accordingly, it became evident that there was a need for the organisation of the European social area. To create and manage this area, the Community employed legal instruments to the extent that these did not undermine the freedom of manoevre of the social partners who are given a role in the process of implementing the European social area, under Article 188 B of the EEC Treaty. A programme emerged from this: the implementation of the social base. However, it appears that harmonisation of national provisions will not be achieved in all areas by 1993.
Set out below are the principal elements of the text concerning the establishment of the European social area. The text has seen, since its publication in 1990, numerous improvements with the adoption of the Schengen agreement as well as other measures pertaining to workers rights in the Community of 1993.
We also reproduce some important statistics from A Social Portait of Europe (The Statistical Office of the European Communities - EUROSTAT) published in 1991.