Social Committee slams the 28 EU leaders for false promises

European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy (first from right), meets with the president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Henri Malosse (second from right), in the presence of the presidents of the Committee’s Employers' group, Jacek Krawczyk (second from left), the Workers' group, George Dassis (first from left) and the vice-president of the Various Interests group, Ariane Rodert. (Council of the European Union, Photographic Gallery, 21/10/2013)

European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy (first from right), meets with the president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Henri Malosse (second from right), in the presence of the presidents of the Committee’s Employers’ group, Jacek Krawczyk (second from left), the Workers’ group, George Dassis (first from left) and the vice-president of the Various Interests group, Ariane Rodert. (Council of the European Union, Photographic Gallery, 21/10/2013)

The president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Henri Malosse, accompanied by the presidents of the Committee’s Employers’ group, Jacek Krawczyk, the Workers’ group, George Dassis and the vice-president of the Various Interests group, Ariane Rodert, met yesterday with the European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, ahead of the European Summit of 24-25 October. The first thing they had to tell him was that, the much advertised last June anti-unemployment measures, prove so far to be only “mere declarations”.

The European Economic and Social Committee represents the economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body of the European Union established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process.

Underlining the weight of the European citizens’ expectations in the field of economic and social policies, during this meeting the Committee expressed its own case for tangible and rapid achievements that would enable to restore public confidence to the European Institutions. Obviously they expect that Rompuy will solemnly inform the 28 EU leaders this Thursday and Friday, about what the 500 million of Europeans had to tell. Not to forget that the EESC represents the civil society of the entire EU.

Unfulfilled promises

However, the members of the Committee had a lot more to communicate to the President of the European Council. They insisted on the still void Youth Guarantee Scheme, an announcement pompously baptized as the cornerstone decision of last June’s European Summit. On that occasion, the 28 leaders ‘sold’ this decision as their personal guarantee to EU’s millions of unemployed youths, promising to offer them immediate occupational options.

Under this Youth Guarantee Scheme the member states committed to ensure that within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education “all young people up to the age of 25 receive a high-quality offer of a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship”. Currently, 23.5% of Europeans under the age of 25 (approximately 7.5 million) across the EU are out of work.

Four months have passed and not one of those 7.5 million of unemployed European youths is offered anything. In view of that the Committee warned that the Member States have still not proposed anything specific and that there is a great risk this whole affair remains “a merely declaratory policy”. The Committee also stressed the importance of increasing the mobility and the homogeneity of the labour market in Europe “for business development and aimed at combating unemployment”.

Mismatch in labour market

It’s not only that, however. At a time when there are 7.5 million of unemployed youths, the Committee informed President Rompuy that currently there are 900.000 jobs in the IT sector, which are not being taken up. This is incomprehensible because it is more than certain that among the millions of unemployed youths there are for sure hundreds of thousands suitably trained, able and willing to fill all those vacancies. If the policies were right, this mismatch shouldn’t have acquired such preposterous dimensions. Consequently, it seems that all the 28 EU leaders care for is to make nice policy announcements and then forget all about them.

Unfortunately for mainstream politicians though, developments during the last two to three years show that the two extreme ends of the political spectrum and some nonsense political formations are becoming everyday all more powerful. Especially in countries worst hit by the crisis, the political scenery has become a real minefield, because their elites are unable to come up with viable solutions.

In any case, the head of EESC asked and the President of the Council accepted that from now on the two will meet before every European Council, in order to discuss issues on the agenda that directly impact the economic and social actors.

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