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Brussels, 25 February 2009

Commission meets employers and trades unions to tackle the economic crisis and take action on jobs

The European Commission today continued its work to implement the European Economic Recovery Plan with a special meeting with the representatives of trades unions and employers at EU level. It showed a wide consensus that the internal market and the Recovery Plan provided the right springboard for tackling the crisis and taking action on jobs in Europe, and that further measures would have to be put in place at EU level.

"Tackling the economic crisis and taking action on jobs means working together" said President Barroso. The Commission's policy is aimed at limiting the impact of the crisis on the real economy and jobs, preparing businesses and the workforce for recovery and helping Europeans to find jobs that are sustainable for the future. The impact of the crisis on employment is evident. To arrest the downturn, to limit the loss of jobs and business shutdowns, and to put Europe back on the road to growth and jobs, we need a partnership. I am delighted to have this opportunity to discuss with the social partners how to target our work most effectively, and how we can come together to deliver results."

In the meeting today, the Commission and the European social partners (ETUC, Business Europe, CEEP and UEAPME) agreed on the need to work together to safeguard and develop further the social and economic achievements of the EU and its internal market as the source of prosperity, growth and jobs in Europe.

The European social partners also welcomed the European Economic Recovery Plan as the right starting point and made clear their readiness to work to ensure its effective implementation and to carry it through into further action with the ambition required.

The European Economic Recovery Plan proposed by the Commission and adopted by the European Council in December sets out a wide range of measures to keep and create jobs and maximise the ability of the European economy to get through the recession.

Many of the key elements in the Recovery Plan will have a direct impact on the workforce. These include training to keep people in work and to help them find new jobs. EU funding is available through the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and new sources of finance are available for SMEs.

The discussion with the social partners' representatives focused on their proposals for measures to enhance growth and employment, to implement flexicurity measures and support companies and workers through the recession, to encourage investment and keep up purchasing power and demand, to respect free movement of workers and collective agreements, and to guarantee the continuation of the single market. Their views will be fed into the input of the Commission to the 1 March informal meeting of Heads of State and Government, the Spring European Council and the Employment Summit which will take place in May. The Commission and the social partners agreed to work closely together and to find ways to ensure that employers and trades unions from across the European Union can contribute to the successful recovery of the European economy.

The representatives of the social partners who attended this meeting were: Business Europe: Ernest-Antoine Seillière, President; CEEP: Carl Cederschiöld, President; ETUC: John Monks, General Secretary; UEAPME: Georg Toifl, President.

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