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The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, has called for a reinforced focus on job creation as Europe struggles to stave off the worsening economic outlook.
In an address to the Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalisation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body, Andor said the European Union (EU) was going through "turbulent and tough times", and referred to the increase of long-term unemployment, rising levels of job precariousness and high youth unemployment as the most pressing issues.
He said "at EU-level, 43% of all unemployed people have been looking for a job for more than a year. In some member states, however, this ratio is above 50%. With such high rates, coupled with weaker growth perspectives, there is a serious risk of a lasting exclusion of individuals from the labour market, with serious social consequences".
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia warned that "the employment, social protection and social dialogue challenges this year are going to grow exponentially", and called on governments to move from words into action by putting the recovery agenda into practice.
Andor said it was time to consider different policy options, including measures aimed at securing decent incomes for everybody and promoting youth employment prospects. He also said it was important to address the revenue side of the equation by shifting part of the tax burden away from labour.
Andor said the EU was confronted with the "complex interplay between their fiscal policy, their growth outlook, the strength of the financial sector and the market assessments of these variables. Nevertheless, fiscal consolidation efforts should not hamper the labour market prospects as they are a key pre-requisite for growth".
Somavia and Commissioner Andor presented two new publications prepared as part of a three-year collaboration between the European Commission and the ILO International Institute of Labour Studies: Building a Sustainable Job-Rich Recovery, examines the origins of the 2008 financial crisis and provides an overview of immediate policy responses across both developed and developing economies. Towards a Greener Economy: The Social Dimensions, aims to promote understanding of the nature of the green economy and its implications for labour markets.