The European Commission has adopted a communication to establish a legal basis for its activities in research, analysis, cooperation and action in the field of employment. The communication sets out a new approach to employment policy, one which will achieve closer, more effective partnership between the Member States and the Commission and, more generally, with all those involved in employment. The approach is designed to: - Produce more accurate knowledge of the labour market and employment policies; - Provide assistance in finding and transferring examples of best practice; - Develop an acceptable policy for disseminating findings. The proposed budget for these activities is ECU 57 million for the period 1996-2000. Both the White Paper on Social Policy published last year and the medium-term Social Action Programme adopted by the Commission in April 1995 indicated that the Commission would be reviewing its activities in the field of employment. These activities need to be reassessed in the light of the Essen Summit's conclusions in relation to employment and the need to establish a legal basis for Commission action in this field. In the early 1980s, a worsening unemployment situation led to the development of new strategies for the creation of jobs. Various initiatives were developed by the Commission in response either to Council resolutions or requests from Parliament. The Commission set up a European employment observatory, offering systems for the mutual exchange of information on employment policies (MISEP) and for Community documentation on employment (SYSDEM). In 1986, the Commission launched its Local Employment Development Action (LEDA). This was a programme with a series of specific products (a manual on employment, the LEDA school, a management and training programme, international mini-networks) designed to establish solid and practical back-up for local employment development activity. In 1987, the Commission launched a series of Local Employment Initiatives (LEIs) specifically aimed at women and designed to help them create stable jobs by setting up businesses, organizing cooperatives or pursuing other efforts with job-creation potential. The Commission's transnational programme ERGO was aimed at improving knowledge of the problems experienced by those at the greatest disadvantage in the search for employment. It assessed steps taken by Member States and offered opportunities for exchanging best practice and sound methodology. The Commission has for some years now been pursuing a strategy of improved communication through the publication of documentation, the promotion of international conferences and seminars of experts, the organization of events such as Employment Week, and support for the work and expansion of transnational networks. Two such networks were the Trade Union Research Network (TURN) and the European Group for Local Employment Initiatives (EGLEI). Both drew on the experience of operators on the ground, finding new ways out of the employment crisis. In adopting the communication, Mr. Padraig Flynn, Commissioner responsible for employment and social affairs, said that there were obvious limitations to what can be achieved by activities which set out primarily to identify and test innovative solutions to the employment crisis on the basis of comparatively meagre resources. In the light of this experience, the Commissioner felt that a more coordinated approach will bring benefits. It will have the effect of drawing together the different elements of Community action on employment policy so that they enhance and complement each other. It will also encourage the development of partnerships between the Commission and the Member States, enabling the Commission to support and reinforce what Member States are doing themselves.