UK and Spain issue joint statement on employment
In advance of the December 1998 European Council summit in Vienna, the UK and Spain circulated a joint statement on employment policy to all other EU governments, emphasising that the reform of Europe's labour markets should continue.
In what is believed to be an unprecedented bilateral initiative between the governments of the two countries, the UK and Spain issued a joint statement in early December designed to influence the debate at the Vienna European Council meeting on 11-12 December 1998 about the EU's strategy for generating employment growth (EU9812141N). The implicit intention of the declaration appears to have been to emphasise the centrality of continued labour market reform in boosting employment, as against the possibility of more interventionist job-creation measures favoured by some other Member States.
The joint statement argues that:" The key to sustainable employment growth in Europe is competitiveness in an environment of macroeconomic stability. The key to competitiveness is the structural reform of our labour markets, product markets and capital markets ... Further reform is essential if Europe is to maximise the positive employment effects of growth." The two governments also call for "labour market regulation [which] supports a high level of employment".
The UK's Labour government has committed itself to campaigning for labour market flexibility in Europe (UK9706136F), and its joint statement on this issue with the centre-right government in Spain signals important differences in emphasis between the UK and some other leading left of centre governments, including France and Germany, on the issue of EU employment policy. However, a further pre-summit statement agreed between the UK and Sweden covering wider economic and social issues also includes the point that EU social policy should facilitate the structural reform of Europe's labour markets.