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Priority must be given to investing in people and modern labour markets, declares Slovenian Minister Marjeta Cotman.

A meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) chaired by Minister Marjeta Cotman was held today in Brussels. The EU Ministers had a political discussion on key results and challenges in the labour market and in the fight against poverty. “Although we expect to create five million more jobs by 2009, efforts need to be continued. There are still too many Europeans without employment, particularly young people. Europe has to continue in the direction of modernising the labour market and improving employment. The unemployed and people in precarious employment need our special attention. Priority must be given to investing in people and modern labour markets,” declared Marjeta Cotman, Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs.

The EPSCO Council adopted several documents that it will submit to the European Council as its contribution on the implementation of the Lisbon strategy, including the Joint Employment Report 2007/2008; it reached agreement on a joint approach to the employment guidelines, and political consent on the Joint Council Recommendations for 2008, adopted the Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion, and took note of the Commission Report on equality between women and men for 2008 and progress in the preparations for the Tripartite Social Summit to be held on 13 March 2008. A Resolution on the position of persons with disabilities in the EU was adopted on the initiative of the Slovenian Presidency.

The Council President, Mrs Cotman, stressed in relation to the preparation of a new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy that “the Lisbon Strategy is of exceptional importance for European citizens and it is now entering its final stage, as we are starting to carry out the last in-depth review before the target date of 2010. At the beginning of the new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy, we wish to continue focusing on its implementation in each of the Member States.” Regarding employment and the guidelines for jobs, the Council underlined the importance of maintaining the stability of employment guidelines in the new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy and defined the priority tasks for increasing employment.

The EPSCO Council discussed the important issue of the position of persons with disability in the EU and reached political agreement on a resolution of the EU Council and the representatives of the Member States governments on the status of persons with disability within the European Union.  The President of the EPSCO Council Marjeta Cotman expressed her satisfaction with the adoption of the resolution introduced on the initiative of the Slovenian Presidency and emphasised that “in Europe, at least 10% of the Europeans are disabled persons, but if we also count the people they live with, at least a quarter of all Europeans have to deal with disability. The agreement reached is thus an important contribution to improving the situation of persons with disabilities.”

The Resolution supports the findings and recommendations of the European Action Plan 2008-2009 and calls for the earliest possible ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the same time, the resolution contains new expectations for development in this field – accessibility in all areas of the life of persons with disabilities, stepping up the fight against discrimination and further development of political instruments for these purposes. Special attention in the resolution is also devoted to encouraging disabled persons to be active in the labour market and their inclusion in the community. At the same time, the resolution calls attention to the importance of strengthening dialogue between persons with disabilities and organisations for the disabled, State authorities, expert institutions and social partners.


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Date: 29.02.2008