The EU budget must become a real engine of growth and job creation. For this, it must be fully aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy priorities. This is the guiding principle the Commission followed when preparing its proposals and the principle we will strive to preserve in the upcoming discussions with the Member States and the European Parliament.
The topic of European Social Dialogue is particularly relevant in these times of significant economic and social challenges. The Social Partners' Agreement, otherwise known as the Social Protocol, was the foundation for the European Social Dialogue that we have today in Articles 154 and 155 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The current environment of jobless growth combined with a bleak economic outlook requires, more than ever before, a reinforced focus on growth and concrete measures to boost jobs. This means moving beyond the "short-term only approach" and looking at the "long-term challenges" as well as the structural sources of growth and job creation.
We are discussing Roma integration in a critical time. A lot has been taken for financial stability, more needs to be done for social cohesion. We have to strengthen solidarity in terms of quality of relations within society and among Member States.
From Lisbon to Helsinki, from a university classroom to a textile manufacturing site, from a company owner to the lifelong civil servant, we may all have different ways of understanding and living the economic challenges. We may all have different answers. But we all agree that employment and labour market developments must be part of the solution. They are an essential ingredient for whatever recipe the EU finds to pursue its journey of integration.