José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Introductory statement of President Barroso at the joint press point with Commissioner Andor and the European Social Partners
High-Level Tripartite Meeting with the European Social Partners
Brussels, 4 June 2010
We just had what I think was a very fruitful meeting, a very open exchange of views with the four European Social partners, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Business Europe, the European association of craft, small and medium sized enterprises (UEAPME), and the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP).
In fact this meeting came because the General Secretary of ETUC wrote me a letter some time ago saying that he wanted to discuss some of the concerns, very important concerns, that the trade unions of Europe have in this current situation. So in a short time we have organised it.
In our discussion today, I underlined the need for fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. Only if we are serious about getting our house in order, and only if we really do our best to work for a sustainable future, we will be able to re-establish confidence in our economy and growth. Growth is the response, but without confidence we will not restore growth. Without growth, no job creation. Without determination to act now, we put our European model of society at risk. We want to keep our European model of society and for this it is important to create confidence in Europe and the euro area.
I think we had some points of agreement, even if there were of course also some different points of view. But I think that everyone agrees that we need a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
I think that everybody agrees that efforts must be fair and balanced. Everybody must contribute, and we must not leave behind the weakest of our societies. Growth that occurs on the back of a social wasteland will turn into a boomerang.
We need to pay special attention for the most vulnerable in our societies. The crisis exists not because the workers have created it, but there is indeed an emergency situation from a financial point of view.
Thirdly, to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth, effective social dialogue at all levels is key. We also need to have close cooperation among the social partners to anticipate and manage future difficulties.
Fourthly, we should aim at creating increased participation in the labour market.
Finally, all participants have shown some commitment to a joint direction. There is in fact a joint statement of the European social partners on the Europe 2020 strategy. I welcome that statement and I hope that you will give it all the attention it needs, at least I promised the Social Partners that I will convey this as well at the next European Council.
Social cohesion and social inclusion are at the heart of Europe 2020. And they will remain central for the next ten years.
I look forward to the continuous close co-operation with the Social Partners in overcoming this crisis and I hope that also at national level this effort is pursued.