Luxembourg Presidency outlines objectives of Employment Summit

As the date for the special European Employment Summit approaches - it is to be held on 20-21 November 1997 - various parties have outlined their priorities for the summit. Here we concentrate on the objectives outlined by the Luxembourg Government, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council.

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg,Jean-Claude Juncker, whose Government currently holds the Presidency of the European Council, told members of the European Parliament's economic affairs committee on 4 September 1997 that the purpose of the Employment Summit, to be held on 20-21 November, is to decide on concrete action to alleviate the problem of unemployment in Europe. He argued that "if this summit like earlier summits only results in declarations, but few concrete measures, then it is a failure". Mr Juncker emphasised that he did not want to see the meeting turn into a "deregulation summit" with the prime objective of achieving greater labour market flexibility. Instead, he wanted the summit to lead to the adoption of clear guidelines for European employment policy, which should form an integral part of the overall economic guidelines. Mr Juncker argued that these guidelines had to be sufficiently clear and detailed to allow an annual assessment of their achievement (or the causes of non-attainment).

By way of an example of the kind of guidelines he wanted to achieve, Mr Juncker pointed out that currently only 10% of unemployed people benefit from active measures such as education or retraining. He argued that the EU could make it an objective to raise this to 30%-40% over three years. Emphasising the importance of a shift from passive to active labour market policy, he also stressed the importance of increasing funding for such policies.

Emilio Gabaglio, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), welcomed the approach of the Luxembourg Presidency. In a recent press release, ETUC called for the Employment Summit to:

  • establish a macroeconomic policy which is more favourable to employment;
  • immediately put into effect the parts of the new Amsterdam Treaty which deal with employment (EU9707135F); and
  • clarify the role of the social partners in the new employment-creation procedures.

A social dialogue summit is due to take take place on 13 November 1997 to prepare for the Employment Summit.

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