Among the issues to be discussed in the meeting of Heads of State and Government on the 27th and 28th June are the concerning employment rates and a reinforced Economic and Monetary Union. Many of the points raised in the debate echo CESI demands to the European Council, made last week at its joint press conferences in Spain and in Portugal.
Addressing the European Parliament for the last time in Ireland’s Presidency, Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton set out the agenda for the upcoming June Summit: “The June European Council will focus on the last phase of the European Semester, the fight against youth unemployment, improving access to finance and further deepening of European Monetary Union.” Minister Creighton also attempted to highlight progress made in the last six months by the Presidency, such as the guarantee that every young person would receive further education, training or employment after 4 months, claiming that this will rank amongst Ireland’s greatest achievements.
While some progress has been made, no one can deny that this falls far short of the action that needs to be taken in order to address the economic and social situation. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, stated that employment as a priority on the Council agenda is long overdue and welcomed that there was now consensus among Member States on the need to address this issue. Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, László Andor, spoke to MEPs about youth unemployment stating that specific focus on young people is necessary as they have been disproportionately affected by the crisis and that there remains a concerning risk to social instability as a result. Social and economic stability is not a risk, but a reality.
CESI supports many of the points made by Commissioner Andor and calls for Member States to act on these words. Last week at press conferences held in both Madrid and Lisbon with member organisations in a demonstration of ‘unity of the south’, CESI called on Member States to review the current economic strategies and look for a new approach. The demands were set out to the Spanish and Portuguese media which can be accessed here. The reactions of the Spanish and Portuguese media can be accessed through the relevant links.
Now is certainly the time for the relevant actors at national and European level to act before it is too late, before the ‘lost generation’ becomes a reality and before economic and social instability escalates to uncontrollable levels. Even though CESI is not fully in line with the Commission on many issues, it is difficult to disagree with President Barroso today when he said that there is no time to lose.