After reforms under the Lisbon strategy, growth has picked up and jobs are being created while unemployment is being reduced across Europe. Positive effects on social cohesion are visible, e.g. in decreasing long-term unemployment. Gender gaps, though also decreasing, generally remain considerable. The employment rate of older workers is now nearly 44% in the EU (34.8% for women, 52.6% for men); 9 countries have reached the 2010 target of 50%.

Social protection reforms and social inclusion policies are starting to pay off: they promote social cohesion directly but also support growth by enhancing labour supply and by making fiscal positions more sustainable. The funding of social protection is subject to a broadening of the financing base from labour taxation to other types of taxes. Optimising the quality of social spending is necessary to maintain adequate levels of social protection and sound public finances.

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