Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment Council : Ministers Discuss Implementation of 2020 Objectives

Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment Council : Ministers Discuss Implementation of 2020 Objectives

Article excerpt

Although the objectives of the new Europe 2020' strategy are in line with their priorities, European ministers are concerned about how they will be achieved and with what tools. This is what emerged from the 28 comments by ministers and advisory committees on the new EU strategy for growth and jobs for the coming decade at the Employment and Social Affairs Council, on 8 March. Ministers focused in particular on two of the strategy's objectives: bringing the employment rate of the population aged 20 to 64 years from 69% at present to at least 75%, and reducing by 25% the number of Europeans living below national poverty thresholds so as to bring 20 million people out of poverty. This debate was meant to lay the foundation for the position the ministers will present at the European Council, on 25 and 26 March, which will be transmitted to the General Affairs Council once formalised.

CONSENSUS: DOING BETTER THAN LISBON

Throughout their discussion, the ministers argued for an active employment promotion policy. All expressed determination to obtain more concrete, realistic and quantifiable results than those obtained under the Lisbon strategy. Commissioner Laszlo Andor, who attended the Council for the first time, stressed this point, saying it was "urgent to agree a new strategy". "The crisis shows how interdependent our economies are and we must act in a coordinated way at EU level. This is a different method from the one defended in the previous strategy [Lisbon], particularly in its objectives." He reminded the ministers of the Commission's five major objectives and seven flagship initiatives before announcing that he would soon set up a framework for integrated action giving young people assistance for entering the job market and an "Erasmus-like first job" programme. His determined attitude nevertheless did not seem to address the concerns of the 27 European ministers. …

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