Tuesday, March 18, 2008

“Better job = Better pay”- Barroso

Tripartite social summit cites more attention for education

The European Union is a far-away institution that does not care for ordinary European citizens and this was the notion that the “Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment: An Instrument of Social Dialogue,” addressed prior to the European Council last week.

Answering journalists’ questions, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, defined a better job saying, “Better jobs are jobs that first of all better paid.” Those need to be also “sustainable,” he added.

Europeans fighting rising prices and lower wages were addressed as Barroso continued, “We cannot create a competitive Europe if we leave some citizens on the margins.”

Reiterating the importance of the Lisbon Strategy, Barroso said, “Lisbon strategy is not growth for growth sake but (our) aim is a modern Europe. A Social Europe and an environmental friendly Europe.”

Among others present at the press conference were G. Toifel, President, UEAPME; C. Einem, President, CEEP; E. A. Seilliere, President, BUSINESSEUROPE; J. Monks, Secretary General, ETUC/CES; J. Jansa, Prime Minister of Slovenia and President of rotating EU Council; Vladimir Spidla, European Commissioner for Social Affairs.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa talked of health and safety of work place calling Lisbon Agenda reforms as not only just “EU level” but also to be addressed at “national level” and at the level of “citizens.”

Reiterating, “the renewed Lisbon Strategy is working well and is delivering results,” he added, “as shown by the fact that the basis of the European economy is healthy, that 6.5 million new jobs have been created, that the budget deficit has been halved in comparison with 2005 and that the European growth rate stands at 2.9 percent.”

Another area Jansa stressed was wind energy where the prime minister said, “employment tripled.”

Calling upon journalists to do the needful, the Slovenian prime minister said, “Communication is the key. We need to market our objectives in a better way.”

Monks, representing ETUC, called for “free movement,” to create more “opportunities for new jobs,” and reiterated, “Lisbon has picked up in last three years.”

ETUC gave a warning, saying that the situation on ground was heading from bad to worse as there were 17 million workers in the rich EU bloc living in poverty while another 31 million work for starvation wages. There are fewer and fewer jobs with security while more and more lowpaying jobs are being created, ETUC had lamented.

In this context, talk of “flexicurity,” took an important dimension. Seilliere, president of BUSINESSEUROPE, demanded more flexicurity, saying: “It is about essentially improving the employability of workers.” “Social partnership is one of the main issues,” he added.

Political pundits and social observers however were sceptical of the final outcome in terms of “walk instead of talk,” pointing out that this is just rhetoric that has been repeated once a year at social summits.

Another social strategist added, on condition of anonymity, “There is no solid new agenda at this summit and Slovenian presidency just wants to get over it without a major failure. The social summit will be the highlight of the overall summit.”

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