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Skills and equality

We want to ensure that people have the right skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and equal opportunities.

Building a Union of equality

Strategy on the Rights of the Child and European Child Guarantee

The Commission has proposed an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee to ensure that children at risk of poverty and social exclusion have effective access to key services such as healthcare and education.

The European Child Guarantee, adopted by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) on 14 June 2021, aims at breaking the cycle of poverty and social exclusion across generations.

European Disability Strategy

Persons with disabilities face important barriers in education, training, employment, social protection, housing and health. The evaluation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 shows that the EU significantly contributed to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities and to promote their rights.

However, in areas such as health, employment, education and skills progress was more limited or uneven. Building on this evaluation, and to further increase equality of opportunity in the EU, the Commission adopted together with the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan a new Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030, in line with the objectives of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Diversity in our society and economy is a strength. Discrimination on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation is prohibited in the EU. Efforts are particularly urgent to address gender-based stereotypes and discrimination.

Gender equality strategy

Gender symbols

Women in the EU earn on average 16% less than men

One person in a suit and another wearing a hard hat

Only 67% of women in the EU are employed, compared to 78% of men

Hand holding stacks of coins.

On average, women's pensions are 30.1% lower than men's pensions

Despite progress in the last decade, the employment rate and pay levels of women still lag behind those of men. Women continue to be seriously underrepresented in decision-making positions, especially in senior management functions and in corporate boardrooms.

Implementing the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the EU will continue to combat gender-based violence, counter gender stereotypes, to promote women’s participation in decision-making and work to close gender gaps in the labour market, pay and pensions. 

Equal pay and work-life balance

Alongside the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the Commission is proposing a Directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency measures and enforcement mechanisms. 

Adequate work-life balance policies facilitate conciliation of work and private life. In line with the Work-Life Balance Directive, the EU will continue to promote equal sharing of care and work responsibilities.

Investing in skills and education to unlock new opportunities for all

The right to training and lifelong learning, enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights, should be a reality for everyone across Europe, from cities to remote and rural areas. The Commission is placing skills at the heart of the EU policy agenda, steering investment in people and their skills for a sustainable recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses need workers with the skills required to master the green and digital transitions, and people need to be able to get the right education and training to thrive in life.

Higher Education institutions and vocational education and training (VET) ensure that our current and future workforce has the appropriate skills and can contribute to the recovery. Member States are supported to address these challenges by

In order to reach the 2030 skill target of 60% of adults participating in learning every year, sustained public and private investment is needed to facilitate access to training for people of working age. The reinforced EU funding, in particular via the European Social Fund Plus and Erasmus+, provides unprecedented opportunities.

The Commission strongly encourages Member States to include in their national recovery plans investment and reforms in reskilling and upskilling, one of the 7 flagship areas of the Recovery and Resilience Facility

Europe’s recovery also requires attracting new talent. Europe’s ageing and shrinking population puts a structural pressure on the labour market, with skill shortages in different regions and sectors. As outlined in its New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission aims to ensure that the EU legal migration framework benefits European societies and economies, by attracting talent and facilitating the admission of workers of different skills levels the EU needs and the intra-EU mobility of third-country workers already in the EU.



4 MARCH 2021
European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
(3.08 MB - PDF)



3 MARCH 2021
Factsheet: Strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities
(978.23 KB - PDF)


4 MARCH 2021
Proposal COM(2021) 93 final
(325.5 KB - HTML)


4 MARCH 2021
Factsheet - Pay Transparency - Equal pay for women and men for equal work
(305.89 KB - PDF)


24 MARCH 2021
Proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee


24 MARCH 2021
Factsheet: European Child Guarantee
(275.91 KB - PDF)


1 JULY 2020
Communication: European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience
(2.15 MB - PDF)