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Brussels, 19 March 2009

President Barroso and Prime Minister Topolánek meet the European social partners to discuss the economic crisis

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek – representing the Council Presidency – met the European social partners this morning to discuss the social impact of the crisis, and how to prepare the May summit on employment. Today's Tripartite Social Summit showed a clear consensus on the urgent need for coordinated action at European level to complement and support actions at Member State level, together with a rejection of protectionist measures. Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, and the Swedish and Spanish Prime Ministers, Fredrik Reinfeldt and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, were also present.

The President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso said, "The European Union is acting in a coordinated and determined manner in the face of the crisis. All our measures are intended to limit the negative impact on workers, employers and on all citizens and to restore confidence. The Tripartite Social Summit is a key moment to present a united front with the social partners. Together, we have to redouble our efforts to protect and create jobs, whilst rejecting protectionism, which, in the long-term, does not protect anyone. We must maintain our commitment to the necessary structural reforms which will help us to get back to sustainable growth."

In talking to the European social partners, Commissioner Špidla stressed: "The social scale of the crisis and its impact on employment markets cannot be ignored. Our priorities are to keep workers in their jobs and to create new jobs. We need to boost measures to stimulate the labour market, promote active inclusion, improve how restructuring is managed and invest in education and lifelong learning. The social impact of the crisis will be the main topic at the Employment Summit in May where concrete measures will be adopted. I look forward to your input, so that we can identify together practical ideas at a local, regional, national and European level which can make a difference."

The Commission and the social partners agreed on the need to modernise the European model, in order to preserve its values and to maintain the level of prosperity, social cohesion, environmental protection and the quality of life in Europe.

Agreement was also reached on launching a consultation process to prepare the May Summit. It will include holding three seminars, with the participation of social partners and the relevant national authorities, between now and May in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain focussing on three key issues, respectively mobility, access to employment and skills.

General information

The Tripartite Social Summit is held at least once a year, before the European Council meeting in Spring, to allow an exchange of views by the social partners, the European Commission and the prime ministers and employment ministers of the Troika (which comprises the Member State holding the Presidency of the European Council and the next two States which will succeed it). The Summit agenda always closely follows the agenda for the Spring European Council meeting.

For further information

EU institutions, Member States, social partners and other stakeholders - Issues paper to prepare the Employment Summit

European social dialogue:

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