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EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL PROTECTION IN THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP: Status, Perspectives and Proposals for Action

Auteur : Barreñada Isaías Martín Iván
Type : Article
Thème : Travail et Emploi
Couverture : Maroc

Résumé/Sommaire :

There is a broad and growing consensus on the reality of employment as the main economic and social challenge facing the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC), at least for the next twenty years. According to the 2003 annual report of the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes (FEMISE)[1], 20 million jobs would have to be created by 2010 in order to prevent the already high (official) average unemployment rates of 15% of the working population from increasing. This assumes that the current rate of activity is maintained in the ten MPC (i.e. the ratio of labour force to working age population, currently at 48%, and less than 30% for women). This figure rises to nearly 34 million jobs by 2020. This still does not take into account the predictable tendency for decline in agricultural employment, equating to 30% of the region’s working population. Even if this vast number of jobs were created, two thirds of working age women would continue to be excluded from the labour market. The absolute number of unemployed in the region would rise from the current figure of 8 million to 12 million in 2010 and 16 million in 2020. The World Bank has estimated that if the North African and Middle Eastern group (MENA countries) are to absorb job seeking young people into the labour market in the next two decades, these countries will have to create 80 million new jobs. This rises to 100 million if they intend to absorb the existing high levels of unemployment[2] as well. The European Commission itself, in its five-year Work Programme Proposal[3], speaks of the need to “create 5 million new jobs a year to offer better economic prospects to the new entrants to their labour markets while ensuring the pursuit of sustainable development”.

This need to create employment would mean an increase in the working population – total number of people employed – in the region of more than 50% in the next ten years. This will require, as a minimum, doubling the economic growth rates recorded in the last two decades (from 1980 to 2001, the Mediterranean partner countries grew at an accumulated annual rate of 2.4%), “an accomplishmen… not even achieved by the high performing East Asian economies during the height of their employment growth period”. It is not just a question of statistical projections: most of these young people have already been born, since a third of the 240 million inhabitants of the Mediterranean Partner Countries are under 15 years old...

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