6 Pages

Introduction: the Amsterdam Treaty and reform of the European Union

After a decade of 'Thatcherism versus the social dimension', the option presented at Maastricht of a twin-track approach to Community social policy appeared, despite its attendant risks, to offer a more attractive prospect than an indefinite period of stagnation. An embryonic Community employment policy was emerging, arising in part from the redesignation of the European Social Fund and vocational training policies in the amended European Community Treaty, and focusing in particular on the needs of young people and the long-term unemployed in the less-developed and declining regions of the Union. The Framework Agreement on Part-time Workers is even more explicit, relying directly on the conclusions of the 1994 Essen European Council, which called for measures aimed at 'increasing the employment intensiveness of growth, in particular by more flexible organization of work'. Perhaps the greatest import lies, however, with the new Employment Title and the wider labour market agenda developed at the Employment Summit held in Luxembourg in November 1997.