At the fourth Ministerial Conference on Employment and Labour in Portugal on 2-3 April, the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) gave a new impulse to social and economic integration in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Participants at the conference discussed the most pressing labour market needs in the Euro-Mediterranean region, in particular the persistent inequality in access to jobs, mostly for women and young people.
Echoing this, the Ministers stressed that economic progress and social cohesion should go hand in hand. They reiterated their commitment to creating the conditions to mainstream gender in employment and labour policies.
The Ministers agreed to focus actions on four regional priorities:
- supporting decent job creation and entrepreneurship,
- mobilizing public and private stakeholders to create partnerships and synergies,
- building inclusive labour markets to integrate potentially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and
- investing in quality education systems and training, skills and employability in a changing world of work.
The Ministers emphasised the importance of skills and talent development, particularly for the digital sector, to face the emerging demands from the labour market. To curb the excessive share of the informal economy, they highlighted the potential of the social and solidarity economy.
The Ministers also tasked the UfM Secretariat to work on the launch of a community of practice that would allow experts and concerned actors from public authorities, social partners and civil society organisations to collect, assess and disseminate good practices.
To foster a result-oriented approach, a UfM regional framework will be created to share information on labour market trends and promote a culture of monitoring and evaluation. The UfM Secretariat will coordinate the set-up of this framework to which countries will contribute on a voluntary basis.
Following the conference, EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen stated: “We need to encourage positive results on the ground in the Mediterranean region. Despite progress, too many women, young people and vulnerable persons still remain out of a decent job. At the same time, we need to equip people with digital skills, which are increasingly in demand. This is a joint responsibility at all levels; with employers, unions and civil society organisations. With new tools to exchange best practices and monitor progress, we aim to gear up our joint work on fair jobs and growth on both sides of the Mediterranean.”
The Ministers agreed to convene the 5th Ministerial Conference on Employment and Labour in 2022.
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental Euro-Mediterranean organisation which brings together the European Union countries and the countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.
Its aim is to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and the implementation of projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens, with an emphasis on young people and women.