Meeting of the COSAC Chairpersons,
10-11 July 2016, Bratislava
Social Dimension and Cohesion Policy-Triple A on Social Issues
Intervention by Mr Konstantinos Efstathiou, MP (Cyprus)
The European Union is currently moving along a path of uncertainty, facing unprecedented multifaceted challenges threatening the core of its orientation and even its existence. The blurred political situation is further complicated by the outcome of the Brexit referendum, along with the complex and unstable geo-political situation, the refugee crisis, the need to strengthen economic recovery, are issues that affect all European citizens and need to be addressed swiftly.
In the framework of a fragile economic recovery and persisting strict austerity measures applied through programs of neoliberal fiscal consolidation, the reshaping and redirecting of EU policies towards the European citizen, is imperative as united Europe’s social duty and response. This is why, today, the call for a more social Europe, that delivers growth and prosperity to its citizens, is more than essential.
Further measures beyond the Youth Guarantee Scheme and the Youth Employment Initiative should be taken, aiming to channel funding towards projects that can deliver long-term jobs, especially amongst the youth. Cohesion policy measures have a pivotal role to play in bridging internal disparities and correcting structural imbalances, providing additional support to other programs and initiatives undertaken by member states.
Also, there is a need to reinforce the European Semester of economic policy coordination, targeting the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy, particularly in the fields of employment and social inclusion and taking into account the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union. In this respect, the introduction, for example, of employment and social indicators, in the framework of the European Semester, which are intended for monitoring and timely addressing imbalances, has been a step in the right direction.
Social convergence is particularly important to Eurozone countries, in order for the EMU to become stronger. Relevant measures and policies should include, inter alia, to equal opportunities in terms of real access to the labour market for all groups of the population, education, training and life-long learning, rise of the working age population, good balance between work and family life, fair working conditions, balancing rights and obligations between workers and employers, ensuring adequate social protection systems.
The legitimacy of the European Union lies in our ability to give concrete and therefore visible and credible answers to the daily problems and concerns of our citizens. It is up to us to press for development of policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity and which, at the same time, promote substantial social progress.
Thank you for your attention.