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Brussels, 18 October 2007

EU leaders and social partners discuss how the Reform Treaty and Lisbon Strategy can boost labour markets

Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates – current President of the European Council – today discussed with high-level employers' and workers' representatives reform of the EU Treaties and the future of the EU's Growth and Jobs Strategy. They were joined by Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, as well as representatives of the future Slovenian and French Presidencies. The European social partners used the opportunity of the Tripartite Social Summit – held alongside the informal meeting of Heads of State and Government in Lisbon - to present their joint analysis of the key challenges facing Europe's labour markets and in particular of the way forward towards flexicurity.

"Reforms at EU and national level can steer the economy. But workers and employers are in the engine room. They really drive growth and jobs", said President Barroso in Lisbon. "So I congratulate the social partners on the agreement they have reached. They now need to work with Member States to keep moving towards flexicurity models which adapt labour markets to a globalised world while giving workers meaningful protection and new opportunities. The pathways towards flexicurity depend on the starting point and on national traditions and concerns. They can sometimes seem like an uphill climb. But success is vital for our competitiveness and for the preservation and reinforcement of our social model."

"Over the past months we have debated much about how to put flexicurity into practice. Today's joint contribution of the social partners is a milestone. The social partners are crucial in reconciling flexibility and security in a pragmatic, concrete and pertinent ways for European workers and employers." added Employment Commissioner Vladimír Špidla. "We can see a consensus on the crucial elements of a flexicurity approach emerging. Member States and social partners now need to follow this up with concrete action."

The European social partners (ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE, CEEP and UEAPME) today presented for the first time ever a joint analysis of the key challenges for European labour markets. This analysis was foreseen in the social dialogue work programme for 2006-2008 and covers a wide range of themes including flexicurity, active labour market policies, education and training, macroeconomic policies, favourable business environment, tax and benefit systems, supportive public environment, social cohesion and social inclusion, mobility, undeclared work, social dialogue, labour law and contractual arrangements. Following an extensive analysis of the facts and challenges, the social partners have made recommendations both to European institutions and Member States as well as for themselves.

For further information:
European social dialogue

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