Combating Exclusion : Meps Discuss Ways to Promote Social Inclusion

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Wage levels, discrimination and inefficient judicial systems were among the MEPs' main concerns discussed by the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee on a coordinated EU approach to the fight against poverty, in a public hearing held on 6 May.

In her opening remarks, rapporteur Gabriele Zimmer (GUE-NGL, Germany) said a "global approach is needed to achieve social inclusion". She then listed what should be the common principles to all EU national strategies to reduce poverty, such as "a sufficient income support and active participation in the labour market". "A better access to quality services is a key aspect and gender mainstreaming is also very important," she added.

MINIMUM WAGES

"Remuneration in general and especially minimum wages can prevent poverty," agreed Sepp Kusstatscher (Greens-EFA, Italy), while Rebekah Smith of Business-Europe, the confederation of European employers, argued that the question of sufficient income should be left to member states. She expressed support for the development of common principles on active inclusion. "The main aim should be to support member states in their actions" without creating red tape, she stressed.

However, Olivier Derruine of the ETUC, the confederation of EU trade unions, strongly advocated the introduction of a minimum wage in all EU countries despite the European Central Bank's fear that this could create inflation. …