Facing major demographic problems over the next decades, with an ageing population and fewer workers to support the swelling ranks of pensioners, Germany must better integrate women into the labour market, the European Union's executive body said in a report on the German economy.
Therefore, Germany must use its full workforce potential, Commission President José Manuel Barroso told journalists as he launched the report late on Tuesday in Strasbourg, according to daily Die Welt.
“Germany, but also Austria and the Netherlands, should look at the example of the northern countries,” he said.
That means removing obstacles for women, older workers, foreigners and low-skilled job-seekers to get into the workforce.
Also, “excessive early retirement regulations” needed to be abolished, he said.
The Commission recommends that Germany take steps such as creating more child care places and reducing income tax for dual earners. Taxing couples separately instead of as a pair could encourage more part-time, second-income earners to take up full-time work.
Germany is generally regarded as being on the more traditional side when it comes to gender roles and the workforce. A debate erupted earlier this year over whether the government should impose a 30-percent quota for women in executive positions in German firms.
A risible 2.2 percent of leadership positions at Germany's top 100 companies are held by women, according to a recent survey by the German Institute for Economic Research.
The share of women in senior jobs overall has risen to a record level near 28 percent but they are far more likely to hold responsibility at smaller firms, official figures showed on Wednesday.
The exact result, 27.7 percent, "has increased over the last few years," the Federal Statistics Office said in a statement, but remains "markedly smaller than the total share of female persons employed" at 45.6 percent. In 1996, the number of woman in positions of responsibility stood at 21.8 percent.