“Tackling the economic and social consequences of the crisis must be Europe’s top priority. We need to find a balanced way out of the current turmoil and help get people back into work. This cannot become the lost decade.”
President Barroso has given me responsibility for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The focus of my work must now be jobs. My task will be to work closely with Member States, workers and business to tackle unemployment and help the jobless back to work, preventing further poverty and social exclusion.
Together with my team and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, we will use all the financial, legal and political instruments at EU level to help put Europe firmly on the path to a sustainable future. This includes a more integrated approach to social, economic and environmental policies.
As this Commission's mandate takes off, I believe we have a great opportunity for change. We must draw on the benefits of the Lisbon Treaty – the new "social clause” means social issues will be taken into account in shaping and implementing all EU policies. The Charter for fundamental rights will offer better protection for citizens through its new status, and is an important step towards the better protection of workers.
The financial crisis is a test for Europe's social cohesion. Yet the current economic and social upheaval is our chance to make employment and social policies a strong pillar in the new Europe 2020 strategy.
I have five priorities for the next five years:
EFFECTIVE EU FUNDS: