On Thursday February 28th the EU EPSCO Council meeting (EU Employment and Social Affairs Ministers) will be jointly chaired by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD. The Council’s discussions will focus on the EU Youth Guarantee and employment. Before the start of the EPSCO meeting the two Ministers will host an informal breakfast meeting with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, to discuss ways of better coordinating economic and fiscal policies as well as enhancing the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union.
The main focus of the morning session, chaired by Minister Joan Burton, will be on the EU Youth Guarantee.
In the afternoon, Minister Richard Bruton will chair a policy debate by EU Employment Ministers on the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey and Joint Employment Report in the context of the European Semester.
Minister Burton - If it is successfully implemented, a youth guarantee will contribute to three out of the five Europe 2020 targets: increasing the employment rate, reducing the extent of early school leaving, and lifting people out of poverty and social exclusion.
Speaking about the meeting Minister Joan Burton said: “My key priority for this meeting is to get political agreement on the EU Youth Guarantee.
“The overall objective of guarantee schemes is to provide Europe’s youth with better prospects for their future by ensuring that they become firmly anchored in the labour market. If it is successfully implemented, a youth guarantee will contribute to three out of the five Europe 2020 targets: increasing the employment rate, reducing the extent of early school leaving, and lifting people out of poverty and social exclusion.
“We are all aware that the economic and budgetary situation is difficult in many Member States. Nevertheless, in the current context, it is important that the EPSCO Council should deliver a positive political message: we must show young people that there is a European political commitment to improving their future by providing pathways to employment.”
Minister Richard Bruton commented:
“Thursday’s breakfast meeting between President Van Rompuy and EU Employment and Social Affairs Ministers will be an important first step in framing the debate on enhancing the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union. A currency union needs to focus on economic growth and job creation but also on measures to promote social cohesion.”
Minister Bruton - A currency union needs to focus on economic growth and job creation but also on measures to promote social cohesion.
The Minister continued:
“I look forward to a lively debate at the Employment Council on the Annual Growth Survey and the Joint Employment Report. This Council has an important role to play in setting out the priorities for action in employment and social matters that will be presented by the Presidency to the Spring European Council of 14-15 March.
“While the focus on stability is necessary, we will also be discussing the requirements for measures to promote economic growth and job creation.”
Minister Bruton also noted the publication this morning of the 4th quarter QNHS report which, for the first time since 2008, saw an increase in employment in the economy.
The Minister said:
"The experience of Ireland in trying to transition from an unsustainable economic model based on debt fuelled growth to one based on innovation, exports and enterprise is one that is particularly relevant to the challenged facing Europe. Through the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work the Government is driving the changes needed in our economy and our workforce to create a more sustainable, jobs rich economy. While the numbers today showing jobs growth in our economy for the first time in five years are welcome, all in Government recognise we have much more to do rebuild the shattered economy we inherited two years ago. Our engagement with our European colleagues on these, and related issues, are a key part of that rebuilding process."
The Council will hear 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.
The meeting will also hear a presentation from EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, on the Social Investment Package which was published by the EU Commission last week. The package sets out a framework for policy reforms aimed at investing in people’s skills and capabilities and enhancing social protection while making it more sustainable.
After the presentation, it is expected that Ministers will have an initial exchange of views on the package.
“Today’s meeting is only the start of this process,” said Minister Joan Burton. “It is my intention to continue work on this important issue with a view to having formal conclusions at the next EPSCO meeting next June in Luxembourg.”
The Presidency will hold a press conference on the day’s events. Over lunch, Ministers will discuss the issue of EU Pension rights supporting Labour Mobility.