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Summary of living conditions in Europe

Summary of living conditions in Europe ( 8 )
The political, administrative and legal systems ( 1 )
Incomes and taxation ( 1 )
Cost of living ( 1 )
Accommodation ( 1 )
Health system ( 1 )
Educational systems ( 5 )
Cultural and social life ( 1 )
Private life ( 1 )
Transport ( 1 )

Summary of living conditions in Europe

1. Quality of life – on top of the EU social policy agenda

Favourable living conditions depend on a wide range of factors, such as quality healthcare services, education and training opportunities or good transport facilities, just to name a few aspects affecting citizens' everyday life and work. The European Union has set for itself the aim to constantly improve the quality of life in all its Member States, and to take into account the new challenges of contemporary Europe, such as socially exclude people or an aging population.

2. Employment in Europe

Improving employment opportunities in Europe is a key priority for the European Commission. With the prospect of tackling the problem of unemployment and increasing the mobility between jobs and regions, a wide variety of initiatives at EU level are being developed and implemented to support the European Employment strategy. These include the European Employment Service (EURES) and the future PROGRESS programme (2007-2013). The latter will replace all existing Community programmes and budget lines in the fields of employment, social inclusion and protection, working conditions, gender equality and anti-discrimination.

3. Health and healthcare in the European Union

Health is a cherished value, influencing people's daily lives and therefore an important priority for all Europeans. A healthy environment is crucial for our individual and professional development, and EU citizens are ever more demanding about health and safety at work and the provision of high quality healthcare services. They require quick and easy access to medical treatment when travelling across the European Union. EU health policies are aimed at responding to these needs.

The European Commission has developed a coordinated approach to health policy, putting into practice a series of initiatives that complement the actions of national public authorities. The Union's common actions and objectives are included in EU health programmes and strategies.

The current EU Public Health Programme works towards improving the EU's capability to respond to cross-boarder health threats and improve information and knowledge about latest developments in the public health sector. A new strategy has been designed in the area of health and consumer protection, which further underlines the needs to improve citizens' health security and disseminate health knowledge.


4. Education in the EU

Education in Europe has both deep roots and great diversity. Already in 1976, education ministers decided to set up an information network to better understand educational policies and systems in the then nine-nation European Community. This reflected the principle that the particular character of an educational system in any one Member State ought to be fully respected, while coordinated interaction between education, training and employment systems should be improved. Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, was formally launched in 1980.

In 1986, attention turned from information exchanges to student exchanges with the launch of the Erasmus programme, often cited as one of the most successful initiatives of the EU.

The experience gathered over a quarter of a century has been consolidated and developed into the Socrates programme, covering all areas of education at all ages and levels of ability.

To facilitate the introduction of European studies in universities, the Commission is also supporting the Jean Monnet project, offering start-up subsidies for the establishment of Jean Monnet Chairs, permanent courses, modules in European law, European economy, political studies of European construction, and the history of European integration. The project also supports the creation of Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence.


5. Transport in the EU

Transport was one of the first common policies of the then European Community. Since 1958, when the Treaty of Rome entered into force, the EU's transport policy has focused on removing border obstacles between Member States, thereby enabling people and goods to move quickly, efficiently and cheaply.

This principle is closely connected to the EU's central goal of a dynamic economy and cohesive society. The transport sector generates 10% of EU wealth measured by gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to about one trillion Euros a year. It also provides more than ten million jobs.

6. The Schengen area

The Schengen Convention, in effect since March 1995, abolished border controls within the area of the signatory States and created a single external frontier, where checks have to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules.

Thirteen EU Member States are currently fully signed up to the Schengen Agreement. They are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Sweden. Denmark has signed the agreement, but it can choose whether or not to apply any new decision taken under the agreement. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, which are not EU Members, have signed the agreement as well, but Switzerland doesn't apply the regulations yet.


7. Air transport

The creation of a single European market in air transport has meant lower fares and a wider choice of carriers and services for passengers. The EU has also created a set of rights to ensure air passengers are treated fairly.

Air passenger rights

As an air passenger, you have certain rights when it comes to information about flights and reservations, damage to baggage, delays and cancellations, denied boarding, compensation in the case of accident or difficulties with package holidays. These rights apply to scheduled and chartered flights, both domestic and international, from an EU airport or to an EU airport from one outside the EU, when operated by an EU airline.

8. Rail transport

Europe's rail transport system is characterised by numerous obstacles to interoperability of the national networks. Different gauge widths, different systems for the supply of electric current, and major differences in the organisation of the rail traffic management systems cause significant delays at border crossings and therefore extra costs. Rail transport has thus become less competitive in recent years than transport by road for example.

To overcome existing problems, the European Community has, as part of its Common Transport Policy, adopted legislation to pave the way for gradual establishment of an integrated European railway area, both legally and technically.
Huge financial support is going into trans-European projects like the rail links from Lyon to Poland's border with the Ukraine, from Berlin to Palermo, from Paris to Bratislava and from Warsaw to Helsinki. New international high-speed rail links are being developed between Paris-Brussels-Cologne-Amsterdam and across south-west Europe from Lisbon to Bordeaux.

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News & announcements

7. May 2015

Ertu að flytja til Noregs, Danmerkur eða Svíþjóðar ?

Norræna félagið í samstarfi við Halló Norðurlönd og EURES - evrópska vinnumiðlun standa fyrir upplýsingafundum um flutning til Noregs, Svíþjóðar og Danmerkur.

16. March 2015

Hefur þú áhuga á að starfa í Noregi ?

EURES evrópsk vinnumiðlun í Noregi í samstarfi við EURES á Íslandi stendur fyrir starfakynningu mánudaginn 23. mars 2015 frá kl. 15:00 - 20:00 í fundarsal á jarðhæð Centerhotel Plaza við Aðalstræti 4.


25 November 20107.9076.01913.926

A specific proviso must be made in the evaluation of the unemployment rate, for example, about 20% included in the number of these figures are receiving part-time benefits.

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Focus on

EURES helps German jobseekers find new opportunities in the Swiss countryside

Many vacancies in the tourism sector go unfulfilled each year – hence a new cooperation allowing German jobseekers to meet potential employers, with the help of EURES.
Text last edited on: 12/2010

EURES Estonia - forming partnerships to protect the rights of jobseekers

EURES Estonia and NGO MTÜ Living for Tomorrow have partnered up to protect mobile jobseekers against fraudulent and abusive employers.
Text last edited on: 11/2010

How language learning can lead to new opportunities

An ongoing cooperation between EURES in the Swedish-speaking Åland Islands and a Germany-based language school is allowing skilled, unemployed German jobseekers to gain practical experience in a beautiful location.
Text last edited on: 11/2010

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