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Family support, social contacts and an adequate work–life balance are essential factors in overall quality of life for individuals. However, time constraints resulting from changing work and family patterns are having a negative impact on personal life. People are finding it difficult to find time to look after older people and children and due to work pressures often put off starting a family until they are older. A recent Foundation report explores quality of life from the point of view of households and families in Europe. This paper is a short summary of the main findings of the report.
Promoting the well-being of people is a key goal of European social policy: happy, fulfilled and engaged citizens are the hallmark of a thriving society. Factors such as income, social relationships and time use all have a huge bearing on individuals’ quality of life. A recent Foundation report explores key components in personal happiness and sense of belonging. This paper is a short summary of the main findings of the report.
Income security and economic well-being have a huge bearing on people’s overall quality of life. Recent enlargement of the European Union has reshaped the contours of the economic landscape in Europe, resulting in a widening of the gap between the richest and poorest countries. A recent Foundation report explores quality of life from the point of view of income inequalities and deprivation. This paper is a short summary of the main findings of the report.
On 30 November 2005, the final report of the Pensions Commission was
published. The Pensions Commission was established in December 2002 with a
remit to monitor development of the UK pensions system over time and make
recommendations for future reform. The Commission issued an interim report in
October 2004 (UK0411107F ), which outlined the scale of the challenges
posed by increasing life expectancy, an ageing population and low levels of
personal saving, and warned that unless people were willing to pay more tax,
save more or retire later, pensioners would face substantial cuts in their
retirement income by 2035. The 400-page final report, A new pensions
settlement for the 21st century , widely referred to as the 'Turner
report', recommends reforms to the state system that involve a gradual move
towards a more generous state pension, with the state pension age also
increasing over the long term - in essence a higher pension at a later age -
and the establishment of a new national pensions saving scheme.
In his 2006 budget speech in late October 2005, the Prime Minister affirmed
that Malta’s GDP grew by 1.7% in the first nine months of 2005, up from
0.2% in 2004, and that growth of 1.1% in 2006 was anticipated. He added that
the Nationalist Party government’s strategies to curb the public deficit
have proved to be effective, as by the end of 2005 the deficit is due to drop
to 3.9% of the GDP. It is envisaged that this downward trend will continue in
order to attain the projected 2.8% target by 2006.
Sea Malta Company Ltd, an enterprise with majority state ownership, operated
transport services to and from Malta within the Mediterranean Sea. The
company, which employed around 144 workers, served the national economy by
providing sea transport services for the local manufacturing and retail
enterprises. In line with its privatisation policy, government decided to
divest itself of ownership of the enterprise (MT0507101N ).
A bitter industrial dispute at Irish Ferries (IE0509202F ) was ignited
after management unilaterally issued proposals to replace 543 directly
employed seafarers with predominantly eastern European agency crew, and to
reflag its vessels to Cyprus in the process. This culminated in a stand-off,
starting on 27 November 2005, whereby, provoked by management actions in
bringing agency crews aboard Irish Ferries vessels backed by a security
presence, local representatives and members from Ireland's largest union, the
Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), responded by
mobilising and applying industrial pressure. The result was that Irish
Ferries ships were laid up in Welsh and Irish ports for close on three weeks.
At a meeting of the EU social dialogue committee for the live performance
sector, held in Brussels on 23 November 2005, the Performing Arts Employers
Associations League Europe (PEARLE) and the European Arts & Entertainment
Alliance (EAEA) - which represents 600,000 workers in the sector - concluded
a joint declaration  on cultural diversity. The declaration refers to a
recent United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of
cultural expressions  and to the current negotiations over the General
Agreement on Trades in Services (GATS) within the World Trade Organisation
 http://www.union-network.org/unimei.nsf/501e914dd24249e1c12568750041bafb/d9c700006d3494eac12570c80050846b/$FILE/joint declaration EAEA-Pearle-UNESCO-GATS-en.pdf
On 15 November 2005, the European Parliament (EP) adopted an own-initiative
resolution on the social dimension of globalisation. In the resolution, it
makes reference  to the February 2004 report of the International Labour
Organisation’s World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation
(WCSDG) (EU0403205F ) and the European Commission’s Communication  on
this issue, published in June 2004 (EU0406201N ).
Ministers met for an employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs
Council in Brussels on 8-9 December 2005, under the UK Presidency of the
Council of Ministers. The UK Presidency ends on 31 December.