Tripartite Social Summit debates impact of budget constraints on jobs and growth

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the EU Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy and Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban – for the Presidency of the Council – have met at the Tripartite Social Summit with European workers' and employers' representatives. The Tripartite Social Summit meets twice a year, ahead of the spring and autumn European Councils and is an important opportunity for institutions and social partners to exchange views.

The Tripartite Social Summit takes place ahead of the Spring European Council, which is expected to agree on the comprehensive response to the economic crisis and to launch a new governance architecture as well as key structural reforms. The discussions within the Summit focused on the effect of budgetary and fiscal consolidation on jobs and growth as well as the governance role of social partners.

Further to the meeting, president Barroso highlighted that the Europe 2020 strategy is the agenda that Europe required to get over the situation. With the Annual Growth Survey and the Pact for the Euro Europe has set clear common priorities for economic policy, which will require, when implementing them, fully respect on national social dialogue, industrial relations traditions and social partners' autonomy in the collective bargaining process. The institutions are committed to use the tripartite social dialogue mandate to achieve the social cohesion targets of the Europe 2020 strategy: fighting poverty, improving skills and increasing employment.

Speaking to the European social partners, Commissioner László Andor sought to alleviate fears that the current emphasis on austerity is hampering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. He stressed that Europe is recovering from the recession but this is still fragile and uneven. He underlined the role of the social dialogue within the European Union in pulling Europe out of the crisis saying one key lesson of the recent past is that high-quality social dialogue has played a significant role in alleviating the effects of the recession. The institutions need to work out, with the social partners, how to coordinate on issues like wages, or pensions in a reinforced monetary union.

At the meeting, the European social partners agreed on the need for stronger economic cooperation and for labour market reforms. They called for a proper involvement of social partners in the definition of national reform plans and in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy as a whole.