It is clear that the continued exclusion of Roma from the labour market and the wider society is not an option. We cannot achieve smart or sustainable growth without effective Roma integration and we certainly won't achieve inclusive growth. It is as simple as that.
For some years now, the concern uppermost on young people’s minds has been employment. We all know that the situation was difficult before the financial and economic crisis, and the recession has made it even worse.
Population ageing is indeed a challenge and the consequences are often looked at with anxiety. This is why the Commission proposed 2012 to be the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. I believe this year will help us identifying the right policies, create the necessary alliances, fight stereotypes and particularly ageism and mobilise resources for reforms and investment.
Europe 2020 has put forward a new governance structure, a new way of working – one that favours a partnership approach. In particular, we want to strengthen the involvement of key stakeholders in assessing and evaluating progress.
Europe still has a long and difficult way to go until we can say that we have fully recovered from the crisis – and it is equally clear that austerity measures will unfortunately form part of this road to recovery. But, we must make sure that we minimise their negative impact on our social and economic situation and that we protect the most vulnerable.
Today most OECD countries are faced with difficult policy choices when seeking to strike a balance between achieving fiscal consolidation, creating economic growth that brings high employment and quality jobs, and providing support for people affected by the economic crisis.