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European Commission


Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro

Social pillar of the EMU – Commission statement in the European Parliament

European Parliament session / Strasbourg

22 May 2013

President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

The Commission is collegially, with the steer of President Barroso, working on preparing proposals to strengthen the social dimension of EMU. We are focusing in particular on issues directly relevant for the well-functioning of the euro area, while fully respecting the general social agenda for the EU27.

In view of the protracted recession and high unemployment in many parts of Europe, we must do whatever it takes to overcome the unemployment crisis. Each EU institution will need to work within its own mandate, each Member State both on its own challenges and jointly together as a Union on our common challenges.

The EU's policy mix is focused on sustainable growth and job creation. Monetary policy is accommodative and is likely to remain so. In fiscal policy, consistent consolidation of public finances is continued, even though with a slower pace in the current economic context.

Structural reforms need to be pursued ever more intensively, to allow new economic activity and jobs to emerge. Active labour market policies are crucial, especially in combatting youth unemployment. The Youth Guarantee Scheme is an important element in this respect.

Our work on the EMU's social dimension concentrates on finding ways to better integrate the social dimension in the current structures for economic governance. For example, there is room for strengthening the surveillance of employment and social developments within the European Semester framework.

The Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure with its scoreboard could be further developed to this purpose. While maintaining the structure and objectives of the MIP, the in-depth reviews could regularly review employment and social policies with a view to identify such policies that mitigate social problems and improve employment.

This enhanced monitoring system would help better coordinate policies with a view to identify and tackle major challenges in a timely fashion and better integrate employment and social concerns in the overall policy landscape.

In addition, more can be done with regard to an effective allocation of available financial instruments at EU level to help alleviating the social distress in countries undergoing difficult adjustment processes in EMU. In this respect, ensuring an adequate share of ESF funds to be devoted to tackling poverty and social exclusion would also benefit EMU.

Additionally, a number of features of the new structural fund programming could be directed to support the social dimension of EMU. This could be achieved by taking better into account aspects related to EMU-adjustment when allocating and reprogramming funds aimed at financing labour and social policies, in support of implementation of the Country Specific Recommendations.

Finally, the deepening of EMU requires a genuinely integrated labour market. Enhanced labour mobility within the whole EU is important for the efficient operation of the single market as well as to better match work and workers to enable a higher level of employment.

Reduced mobility costs and hurdles across the EU would contribute to tackling in particular youth unemployment, which is highly concentrated in some countries and regions. The Commission has already put forward important initiatives on this front.

Finally President, Honourable Members,

We also think that a closer involvement and participation of the social partners in policy debates and decision-making processes is critical for the social dimension of EMU. This is important not only to increase the ownership of policies, but also to enhance the effectiveness of policy coordination at euro area level. It is therefore vital that we invest in strengthening social dialogue at both European and national level.

Thank you.

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