EU Employment Ministers today (Thursday) called for an increased focus on policies to promote growth and job creation at a Council meeting co-chaired by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD. Minister Bruton was co-chairing a meeting of the Employment and Social Policy Council (EPSCO) with Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD.
Employment and Social Affairs Ministers agreed measures to ensure more effective co-ordination of policies to tackle unemployment and promote a return to economic growth and job creation. Ministers also adopted conclusions on the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey and made a series of recommendations that will feed into the March European Council meeting. At its March meeting, the European Council will provide guidance to national Governments on the comprehensive strategies to be set out in their National Reform Programmes.
Before the start of the EPSCO meeting, Ministers Bruton and Burton hosted an informal breakfast meeting between EU Ministers, EU Commissioner László Andor and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy on ways of strengthening European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). President Van Rompuy requested this opportunity for an in-depth discussion with Ministers to allow him to prepare proposals for consideration at the June European Council.
Minister Richard Bruton said the Irish Presidency would report back to President Van Rompuy on these discussions to inform the proposals he will put before the June European Council.
The Council also heard from the Presidency about the Tripartite Social Summit to take place on 14th March which will also focus on the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union.
Minister Bruton also said “As we implement measures to promote banking and fiscal stability, we must also put in place stronger measures to target growth and jobs. With almost 26 million people in the EU out of work, tackling unemployment remains one of Europe’s biggest challenges and key common priorities.”
“The gap between Member States in competitiveness, employment and social indicators is widening. Ministers were in agreement that banking stability and fiscal consolidation measures to go hand-in-hand with robust action aimed at restoring economic growth.
He continued “Challenging and difficult structural reforms are taking place in many Member States. It is essential that we press ahead with these structural reforms as they are essential to restoring Europe’s competitiveness.
“However, we need to do more to support growth. Continued support to SMEs, in particular access to finance, needs to take account of the potential of small firms to create jobs and growth. Areas that we must tackle also include strengthening employment support services that meet labour market needs, especially by improving job matching and assisting enterprise through targeted training and other investment in future skills needs.
He concluded, “Today’s meeting between President Van Rompuy and Employment and Social Affairs Ministers was an important first step in framing the debate on enhancing the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union.”