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European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Press conference remarks at Employment and Social Affairs Council
Employment and Social Affairs Council / Luxembourg
21 June 2012
I am pleased that today's Council has agreed its position on the 2012 Country Specific Recommendations for the European Council at the end of June.
The discussion confirmed that the role of the Employment Council in the European Semester has to be reinforced in line with the improved employment policy governance sought by the European Council.
The European labour force has the potential to be a key source for growth and the Country Specific Recommendations presented by the Commission at the end of May and considered today by the Council focus on key areas in which this could be developed.
This exercise demonstrates how employment policies play an important role in the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances.
I have urged Member States to take action on a number of specific points.
Current efforts on pension reforms must be continued in order to help older workers to stay in employment.
Member States must do more to help young people to get a job, by helping youngsters not to drop out of school, by encouraging improved apprenticeship programmes and by offering incentives to companies to recruit youngsters.
They must take measures to help women participate more effectively in the labour market, for example by improving childcare facilities.
Public employment services can play an important role in reintegrating unemployed people into the labour market.
Member States must also look at shifting taxation from labour to other sources which do not affect growth, such as environmental taxes.
And by encouraging wages to be in line with productivity, Member States can better maintain their competiveness.
Member States must better address poverty issues, such as in-work poverty.
I have also underlined the importance of the measures outlined in the Commission's Employment Package.
I invited the Council to adopt ambitious decisions in this respect and to take up the proposals on job creation, structural labour market reform and investment in human capital.
Member States should set out comprehensive National Job Plans and we will monitor progress of their employment reforms on the basis of agreed indicators.
EU funding, in particular the European Social Fund, should be used to support these reforms.
I thanked the Danish Presidency for the progress made on the proposals concerning the posting of workers, and I urged the Council to adopt them as soon as possible.
We have made progress in negotiations at experts level on the proposal concerning health and safety requirements for workers exposed to electromagnetic fields. I therefore urged the Council to adopt the proposal before the end of the year.
The Council today has also considered the future role of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for the period 2014 to 2020. During this programming period, the Fund has responded effectively to number of cases of large-scale redundancies. I therefore underlined that the Fund should be maintained in the future.