Social Europe is about putting people first
On October 12th Commissioner Marianne Thyssen participated in a lively event in the Alexandru Ioan Cuza university in Iasi. Around 200 students were eager to address the Commissioner with their own thoughts and questions about their future and especially the connection between university and their future professional carreer. Commissioner Thyssen warmly opened the discusion by presenting the main concerns and action of the European Commission in the field of equal rights of employees, equal pay and prospectives of skill developement for growth and innovation.
At the start of the dialogue the students were interested in knowing what is the European Commission doing for them in connecting university to the labor market. Commissioner Thyssen presented the main elements of the Skills Strategy supported by the European Commission in taking into account the constant change in skill requirements and the need to provide good basic and adaptable skills for everybody. She also refered to the efforts in bringing all sectors together (universities, private sector and other stakeholders) in defining what would be the skills needed for the future. Commissioner Thyssen emphasized the need of increased involvement of the local authorities and Member States.
Work-based learning as demonstrated in Member States such as Germany, Austria and Denmark is an element of high value for the smooth transition from education to work environment and the European Commission is suportive to the definition of related quality frameworks.
More questions from the public addressed the situation of employers violating the rights of employees, avoid paying taxes and compromising employer contracts. Commissioner Thyssen stressed the need for more and co-ordinated inspection mechanisms on EU level in order for employee rights to be respected on a national level.
An interesting question from the students refered to the issue of equal pay of workers in multinationals operating in different Member States. Commissioner Thyssen presented the work that has been done under the Posted Workers Directive but this was not to be misunderstood with the way the national salaies are agreed nationally. Furthermore, the Commission is present to ensure a minimum level of protection of traditional and new forms of employment which appear.
Students were also concerned about the viability of the pension systems in EU due to demographic issues. The Commissioner acknowleged the issue and presented the need to take measures such as financing pensions from more sources than employees conribution as well as raising the retirement age since people live longer.
There was a lot of concern amonsts the participants about the isssue of youth unemployement and what guarantees that they will have a job when they graduate. The Commissioner presented the current status in Romania regarding youth unemployment and the efforts of the European Commission shaping the Youth Guarantee Scheme and initiative targeting youth engagement. Moreover, there is a need to co-ordinate efforts in developing the infrastructure in order to create jobs, stimulate innovation and absorbing more high skilled people in the job market.
In her closing remarks Commissioner Thyssen iterated that we are stronger together and that no Member State can do it alone. We need to shape the future together and unity is important in safguarding the rights of people for employment and equality in the job market.
This event in Iasi was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.