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Cotman: "It is only by investing in people and their potentials that Europe will have the opportunity for growth."

"It is only by investing in people and their potentials that Europe will have the opportunity for growth," emphasised the Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, Marjeta Cotman, opening the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs which she is hosting as the President of the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council.

The introductory meeting commenced with the meeting of the two ministers from Slovenia and the Czech Republic and the State Secretary from France with the representatives of the Social Platform (European non-governmental organisations), and thereafter with the representatives of social partners. It is a traditional meeting of the troika with these representatives preceding the informal meeting of Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs.   The participants, among them also the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, and the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Jan Andersson, discussed the introduction of the principle of flexicurity in practice.

Minister Cotman pointed out that "we wish to pursue a common goal, namely to assure every individual in the European Union the possibility and opportunity for a dignified high-quality life and work. And it is only by investing in people and their potentials that Europe will have the opportunity for growth. I myself believe that the concept of flexicurity makes this possible. Even more, it can strengthen the ties between the European Union and its citizens."

The participants of the meeting agreed that special attention should be devoted to the more disadvantaged population groups and that measures should be taken in relation thereto.  These groups definitely include young people, the elderly and women.  The entry of young people into the labour market in the transition period from education to work needs to be improved, in particular through appropriate policies relating to the period prior to entry into the labour market.  Once they are in the labour market, young people – specifically young women – should be provided with conditions enabling them to develop both professionally and personally, to start a family and to be able to reconcile professional, family and private life more easily.     The people who require special measures in enforcing the common principles of flexicurity in practice are the elderly.   Active ageing is the key approach to encourage older workers, especially women workers, to stay in the labour market longer, to undergo training and to upgrade their knowledge and skills, as well as to take measures providing for the improvement of working conditions.

The participation of civil society and social partners in the decision-making process is of essential importance for the framing, adoption and particularly for the effective implementation of measures leading to the modernisation of labour markets and the strengthening of social cohesion. Minister Cotman concluded the meeting by saying: "Non-governmental organisations have the knowledge and understanding that we as policy makers should use for the common good".

The representatives of social partners and the non-governmental organisations - Social Platform will present their proposals and opinions at tomorrow's meeting of Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs.


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Date: 31.01.2008