Extracts from the introduction remarks by László Andor at the 40th anniversary conference of the ETUC

Type: Summary of press conference   Reference: I-075972   Duration: 10:11:13  Lieu:
End production: 28/01/2013   First transmission: 28/01/2013
On 28 January 2013, László Andor, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, took part in the High-level conference "Celebrating the past, looking to the future", organised on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of ETUC, in Madrid. László Andor opened the Panel I "Ready to act for social Europe? Which priorities?" with a speech on "Europeans want and deserve a monetary union with a human face".

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10:00:00 Title 00:00:05
10:00:05 Board of the conference 00:00:03
10:00:08 László Andor, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, arriving 00:00:04
10:00:12 Cutaway of cameramen and photographers 00:00:04
10:00:17 László Andor 00:00:02
10:00:20 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
10:00:24 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that the reality of the EMU today is one of an economic, employment and social crisis, growing divergence between Member States and increasing polarisation within societies; reaching the employment and poverty targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy from there will be more difficult than what we all thought in 2010, when it was launched; but it must be clear for all what is at stake; high unemployment, declining household income and lack of economic opportunities have a negative impact not only on debt/GDP ratios but also on future employability and productivity of today’s unemployed, affecting economic competiveness across the EMU; allowing high unemployment and social dislocation to continue is bad politics and bad economics; the EU institutions and the Member States need to work much closer together in order to boost investment, generate growth, and restore social convergence. 00:01:12
10:01:36 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:03
10:01:40 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that he was asked to address the main priorities for a social Europe and he will be very clear: the main priority, in order to address the current crisis and to prevent future ones, is to rebuild the EMU, and particularly to develop a social dimension for the monetary union and define the role of social dialogue in that. 00:00:23
10:02:04 Cutaway of a photographer 00:00:04
10:02:08 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that stricter fiscal discipline, responsible business and a stronger competitiveness and growth model are, of course, crucial components of a deeper and more resilient Economic and Monetary Union; however, they also need to ensure that this system can deliver to the citizens what they want: the chance and concrete opportunities of upward social convergence. In defining and implementing its policies, the EU is to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion and a high level of education, training and protection of human health. Upgrading the monetary union and ensuring social cohesion in Europe cannot be two separate projects; the EMU itself needs to have a social dimension; until now, however, its elements have not been properly defined; though they have been working on some related elements for some time, the Commission has started to reflect broadly and deeply on this question after the 2012 December European Council. In my view, the social dimension of a genuine EMU must be understood as an ability of the EMU’s rules, governance mechanisms, fiscal capacity and other policy instruments to ensure that economic efficiency and social equity are pursued at the same time. This requires that fiscal objectives are reconciled with employment and social ones in the decision making process, and that there are institutional guarantees to limit the real economic and social costs of fiscal discipline enforcement. Such a social dimension must involve the social partners. In order to build a social dimension, we can further develop the current monitoring tools (those of the Employment and Social Protection Committees) into a scoreboard of employment and social indicators through a systematic and exhaustive analysis of employment and social developments. The existing macroeconomic surveillance framework can be supplemented by reinforced social surveillance of fundamental indicators such as the unemployment rates, the number of young people not in employment or education, gross household disposable income, risk of poverty rates and also in-work poverty. All those phenomena affect people’s (re-)employability and productivity, economic performance as well as social cohesion, but they can also develop into serious social imbalances affecting the stability of the EMU. Another important element for a social Europe could be about basic social standards and benchmarking of key measures to address employment and social imbalances. Let's think, for example, about the youth guarantee, as a possible social benchmark. Other standards would need to be taken into consideration notably about active labour market policies, adequacy of pensions, access to health care, or lifelong learning. For a genuine social dimension, the possibility of transfers at the EMU level needs to be considered seriously, particularly since the EC's analysis has concluded that automatic social stabilisers have weakened, or even stopped being effective on the national level. A fiscal capacity would be able to strengthen the sustainability as well as the legitimacy of the EMU, by addressing asymmetric shocks and mitigating the social consequences of adverse economic developments. One can think about both conditional and automatic fiscal stabilisers. The EMU governance, including its social dimension, would need to be sufficiently reinforced through the introduction of social standards and solidarity mechanisms that could provide more extensive support for preventing and addressing employment and social imbalances that affect the stability of the EMU. Here, conditionality would underline the primary responsibility of the Member States themselves for their own long-term competitiveness and convergence. He is convinced that, for economic, social and political reasons, EMU-level fiscal transfers with an automatic stabiliser function will also need to be developed, as foreseen in the Commission’s Blueprint. For example, in the form of EMU level unemployment insurance, this would constitute direct expression of EU support to citizens in need. Possibilities of involving social partners in the governance of such stabilizer instruments should be explored. 00:04:17
10:06:25 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
10:06:29 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that he has often said in the recent years that the EU must emerge from this crisis with more, and not less social dialogue; this is particularly relevant now, when we not only need to build the social dimension of the EMU, but also confront the phoney arguments of Eurosceptics aiming at greater economic competitiveness through weakening social legislation; the forthcoming Industrial Relations Report will explore some of the key challenges and trends in this area; he is convinced that the involvement of the social partners in the European Semester should be further strengthened and become codified; he has been working on that and made some concrete proposals in the Employment Package adopted in April 2012; the Employment Ministers, in the Council of Ministers, have been very clear on that point too; we need the social partners to be more involved in setting priorities and shaping and implementing employment policies; specific social dialogue arrangements are currently explored with social partners (fully respecting their autonomy) in order to address relevant issues of specific importance for the EMU, such as wage developments and their links to competitiveness, domestic demand and social cohesion; building on the Commission’s suggestion, the first EU tripartite exchange of views on wage developments -- with national social partners -- will take place at a special meeting of the Employment Committee on 1 February 2012. 00:01:48
10:08:17 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:05
10:08:23 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that legitimacy partly comes from the process and partly from the outcomes; it is about institutions, but also about politics and values; the lack of economic opportunities, particularly for the young and long-term unemployed, and rising inequalities undermine social cohesion and trust; national governments and the EU as a whole are losing legitimacy in the eyes of many workers and other citizens by failing to deliver what is expected from them, i.e. broadly shared prosperity and equal opportunity to improve one’s situation; this may even translate into political instability at the national level, but also at EU level, where economic and social divergences can generate disunity; if the Member States agree to pool more financial, budget and economic sovereignty, this inevitably calls for a clear framework for social coordination and convergence; otherwise, it will only lead to more fierce competition between the Member States, lowering of social standards and the jeopardising of the social model. 00:01:17
10:09:40 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
10:09:45 SOUNDBITE by László Andor (in ENGLISH) saying that the EU's goals are economic prosperity and social progress; a well functioning single currency can only be an instrument that serves these objectives; Europeans want and deserve a monetary union with a human face; we must not allow the euro area crisis to tear apart the EU into two halves: one with job-rich growth, and another one with a jobless recession and the constant threat of social unrest; we must not allow those at the bottom of society pay the highest price for the moral failure and misconduct of others on the top and in the shadow economy; we must not allow a malfunctioning monetary union alienate the EU from our workers, our youth, the majority of the citizens in some of its Member States and all those who look at us in the outside world with a lot of concern, and sometimes with horror; we need bold ideas and also bold action if we really want to leave behind the misery of the recent years. 00:01:23
10:11:08 Cutaway of cameraman 00:00:04
10:11:13 László Andor leaving 00:00:09
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