Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President

Stronger Social Protection Urged For EU Workers. Too Late?

Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President

With glacial speed action will surely follow. EU leaders have met with trade unions and employers’ organisations (social partners) for talks on how to strengthen the social dimension of the EU and the euro area, including by better monitoring employment and social trends in future.

The social partners joined European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė (representing the rotating EU presidency) ahead of the EU summit.

Talks focused on the Commission’s recent Communication on strengthening the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union ( IP/13/893), which proposed to improve the EU’s economic governance system by, for example, creating a scoreboard of employment and social indicators and further involving the social partners to ensure an effective social dialogue at the EU and national levels.

The meeting was also attended by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Algimanta Pabedinskiene, Lithuania’s Minister for Social Security and Labour, Ioannis Vroutsis, Greece’s Minister for Labour, Social Security and Welfare and Enrico Giovannini, Italy’s Minister for Labour and Social Policies.

President Barroso said: “Europe is first and foremost about people, which is why the Commission has placed social issues at the core of our economic strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, Europe 2020. The social dimension is an inherent part of the European project and of everything that we have been doing over the years. The prominence and visibility of social and employment issues in our governance system is now stronger. Boosting social dialogue at the EU and national levels is crucial to ensure ownership of our policies and to ensure the right balance.”

Commissioner Andor said: “To be sustainable in the long term, Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union needs to strengthen its social dimension. Open and effective dialogue with the representatives of workers and employers is essential if we are to succeed in the task of putting Europe back on the track of a job-rich and inclusive recovery. This includes dialogue at the EU as well as at the national level.”

At the meeting, the social partners presented a joint declaration on their involvement in the EU’s system of economic governance and welcomed the EU’s commitment to reinforce their involvement.

They called for their views to be referenced in the Annual Growth Survey (which sets the EU’s overall economic and social priorities for the coming year) and fully taken into account at both EU and national level when policies are implemented throughout the year.

They also presented their progress on their joint work programme 2012-2014, including under the Framework of Actions on Youth Employment.

The EU social partners are: the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC); BUSINESSEUROPE; the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services (CEEP); and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

The Tripartite Social Summit meets twice a year, ahead of the spring and autumn European Councils. It is an opportunity for an exchange of views between the social partners, the Commission, the European Council and the rotating Council presidency.

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