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European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Creating quality jobs for young people is our priority
Embargo : 14:30 CET – 16:30 Moscow
G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting / Moscow, 18 July 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank Minister Topilin for putting job creation and labour activation high on the G20 agenda and for a fresh focus on monitoring the G20 commitments in the area of employment and social policy.
Tomorrow's joint meeting with the Finance Ministers should be a step towards improving the coherence of economic, financial, employment and social policy and incorporating the labour dimension more effectively into the broader work of the G20.
With unemployment standing at 11% in the European Union and 12.2% in the euro area, the EU jobless situation is a challenge that we are firmly addressing.
But it varies significantly across the EU, with national unemployment rates ranging from less than 5% to over 25% in some Member States.
Young people have been particularly hard hit, with youth unemployment topping 50% in certain countries.
Creating quality jobs, in particular for young people, and tackling the social consequences of the crisis are therefore among our top priorities.
We must avert the economic, social and political damage that may stem from high youth unemployment or inactivity.
The EU has taken major initiatives at EU level in this area recently.
One is a Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee.
Under the Youth Guarantee, EU Member States will ensure that all young people up to 25 years of age receive a good quality offer of employment, an apprenticeship or a traineeship or the chance to continue their education within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.
We want to mobilise all players and instruments to make the Youth Guarantee work, while improving the way public institutions and businesses work together. The good news is that all these major stakeholders committed strongly to the scheme, opening the way to a full and rapid implementation.
The Youth Guarantee will also receive upfront investments. An additional 6 billion euro from the EU budget will support the Youth Guarantees in the Member States.
Moreover, a few weeks ago we launched the European Alliance for Apprenticeships in agreement with all the major stakeholders to help EU countries develop dual-learning systems with companies involved.
Ministers, ladies and gentleman,
Effective employment and social investment policies play a critical role in spurring growth and competitiveness and preventing macroeconomic imbalances --- all of these are badly needed in Europe.
This is why, on the one hand, the EU pursues bold policies to improve competitiveness, substantial part of which relies on skills and higher productivity against the backdrop of a shrinking and ageing workforce. Today, skills-shortages and bottlenecks act as a brake on the EU's growth and competitiveness.
The measures we put in place seek to improve both the supply of and demand for skills, via investment in education, skills and training, but also through better skills matching (for example through EURES, the European job mobility portal) and skills mapping (for example through the "EU Skills Panorama" website).
The purpose is to achieve better alignment between the skills employers need and the skills workers have, especially in areas with high growth and employment potential, such as the green economy, the information technologies sector, and the health industry.
On the other hand, with the recent Social Investment Package the Commission demonstrates that with improved effectiveness and efficiency gains, the reform of Europe's social systems transform social policy spending into the best possible investment with a lasting return and a core condition for competitiveness.
We therefore call upon Member States to continue investing into human capital and social cohesion, while not forgetting about the protecting and stabilising functions of social spending.
The EU remains a staunch proponent and practitioner of the G20 agenda with objectives such as developing nationally defined social protection floors as recommended by the ILO, but also addressing at G20 level the issue of income inequality, or pursuing greater policy coherence --- just to mention a few points.
Experience shows that excessive income inequality endangers growth and social cohesion, and the IMF, the World Bank and the EU all recognise this.
This is also why I agree that the G20 countries need to focus on addressing income inequality, promoting inclusive labour markets and ensuring that the benefits of development are shared.
As regards policy coherence, we will have ample amount of time tomorrow to discuss developments with our finance colleagues.
So here I would just quickly recall that in Europe, we have stepped up our efforts to achieve greater coherence and better governance. This includes strengthening the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union, in particular by collectively diagnosing and tackling the key employment and social problems in Europe, and giving the social partners a bigger role.
Today is also a good opportunity to stress the vital role of social dialogue.
Three months ago, the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, was a shocking reminder of the need for responsible business conduct and for international labour standards to apply throughout global supply chains.
And it is also our shared duty to prevent tragedies of that sort recurring again.
That is what the EU, Bangladesh and the ILO pledged to do in Geneva on 8 July. Together with garment manufacturers and buyers, trade unions and key partners, we committed to a sustainability compact that calls for immediate actions to improve factory safety, working conditions and labour rights in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh.
Now we have to make those commitments a reality.
I will be happy to discuss how we can work together in this area.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen
We need to send a clear message about putting job creation and labour activation — in particular for young people — and the employment and social dimension high up the agenda at the forthcoming St Petersburg Summit of G20 leaders.