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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the meeting of the European Commission with EU social partners
2 May 2013
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Today was the first time that the College of the European Commission as such met with the European Union social partners. And my invitation to the social partners to meet with the College today reflects the great importance that I and the Commission attach to having a high-level – and a high-quality - social dialogue.
Our discussion was particularly timely because at the June European Council, the President of the European Council and myself will present possible measures and a time-bound roadmap on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union.
As you know, last year the Commission presented the Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, setting out our own ideas on how to reform the EMU through further integration in the financial, fiscal economic and political fields.
And we have already taken the next step in the process by publishing two consultative Communications on the ex-ante coordination of major economic reforms and on the introduction of a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument.
Next week the Commission will host a conference on the Blueprint, where I hope these ideas will be comprehensively debated.
In the EU's social market economy, the social dimension is as important as the market. Now, while we should not reduce the European Union's wider social agenda to the reforms outlined in the Blueprint, we have said in the Blueprint that we need deeper coordination and surveillance of employment and social policies. We believe this is essential to prevent future crises from throwing the stability of the economic and monetary union – and ultimately our social market economy, our social model – into doubt.
As set out in the Blueprint, the Commission considers that financial support will be needed to implement some key structural reforms. That's why, in the two Communications I just mentioned, we propose to take account of the social impact of major economic reforms and earmark EU funding to strengthen the social dimension of the EMU. This could support, for example, the modernisation of vocational training systems or increase the effectiveness of active labour market policies.
The social dimension of the EMU is crucial for its sustainability. Therefore the Commission will soon make proposals aiming to further strengthen the social dimension, without creating new burdensome procedures.
I think there is today a wide consensus among the European Union institutions on the need to better involve social partners in the governance of the EMU, in particular in the European Semester process. And today, we discussed how we can improve our consultation with the social partners in order to shape the social dimension of the EMU, including the social dialogue. At European Union level, our regular Macroeconomic Dialogue or the Tripartite Social Summits are effective, but we could improve them, or look into other forms of consultation. Because I believe this is really important, that's why today we have this kind of meeting. But also very important is the involvement of the social partners at national level. This is key to this process and should be further developed.
I've made - and I can reiterate today - some remarks regarding the need for political and social support for the very ambitious reforms we are now pursuing in Europe.
A real partnership between the EU institutions, national authorities and the social partners is the best way to get Europe back on the path to growth and jobs. Broad ownership of the policies is fundamental for our crisis response to succeed.
And I really believe we all have a role to play in better defining and explaining to people what is at stake and what we need to do together to solve this crisis.
Today we had this discussion - a very open discussion - with the social partners and many of my colleagues, discussing specific policies. I personally believe it was quite interesting and useful to have this exchange of views. But, of course, this is not a one-off event. The idea is to have the contributions of all social partners in the different formulation and implementation of policies. And I believe that together, with our Member States – because at the end decisions need to be taken through our Member States – we can address the big challenges that we are facing today in the European economy.