Skip to content .

Service navigation

Main Navigation


Further information

Link to opens in a new window




Address by Minister Marjeta Cotman at the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (Empl)

Madam Vice-Chairwoman,

Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today. It is my privilege to present the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency work programme in the field of employment and social affairs. Let me begin by outlining the most important topics which will be at the forefront of the Slovenian Presidency’s concerns. After that, I will listen with interest to your opinions and do my best to respond to your questions and initiatives.

Let me stress how valuable I consider this kind of dialogue – and indeed every opportunity for exchanging views on issues to do with the future of European citizens. The European Parliament plays a central role in shaping policy for the future of Europe. My hope is, therefore, for constructive cooperation, particularly with this Committee, since only by pooling our efforts can we take a step forward in improving the social image of the European Union and the wellbeing of every citizen.

Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,

The Slovenian Presidency’s motto in the field of employment and social affairs is “A Europe that invests in people is building its future”. Six months for a Presidency is a short period. I hope, nonetheless, that these few months will suffice to achieve some major steps forward before the end of the Slovenian Presidency. I would also like to conclude the Slovenian Presidency having established a clearer vision on how we can help millions of unemployed young Europeans enter the labour market and how we can raise awareness of the importance of strengthening solidarity between and within generations. My best endeavours will be directed towards combating poverty and social exclusion and ensuring that no one is marginalized; I hope to make a contribution towards improving the employment opportunities and social inclusion of persons with disabilities and ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Europe needs the right tools to accomplish this endeavour. And prudent decisions, too. Europe needs high labour law standards, efficient social protection systems, fruitful social dialogue and dialogue with civil society. If we wish to work for the future, we have to invest in people and in their potential as well as in the systems and structures that mean that Europe will continue to be the best place to live and work.

Taking these as our basic starting points, the action of the Slovenian Presidency will be subdivided into four pillars.

Within the first pillar, relating to the labour market and employment, particular emphasis will be placed on the Lisbon Strategy.

The efficient and timely preparation of the next cycle of the Strategy is one of our key tasks. The most important decisions will be adopted by the spring European Council. One of the most important challenges is to prepare guidelines on jobs. In this respect, it is the Slovenian Presidency’s desire to continue its productive cooperation with the European Parliament.

I believe that the new guidelines must ensure the continuity and stability of the renewed Strategy, so that it delivers results. It is of key importance to establish a balance between the economic, employment-related and social aspects of the Lisbon Strategy to ensure the Lisbon objectives are achieved in a sustainable fashion. We must strive to ensure that the revised guidelines take demographic challenges and the principle of flexicurity into account and give more prominence to social considerations.

In this context, the Slovenian Presidency aims to continue the discussions on flexicurity and to pay attention to the implementation and enforcement of the common principles of flexicurity at the national level. This will be a subject discussed by the Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs at their informal meeting in Slovenia at the end of January.

We wish to devote particular attention to young people and their position in the labour market and in society. Together, we have to identify measures to reduce unemployment among young people and ensure their security and stability, including in cases of atypical employment. Young people need an environment in which they will quickly find a path to move from education to employment, an environment in which it will be easier for them to take a decision to start a family and which will enable them to reconcile professional and family life with less stress.

Besides focusing on these three main themes, the Slovenian Presidency will also devote its efforts to achieving maximum progress in adopting legislative proposals. We are prepared to put our knowledge and energy into seeking solutions concerning the proposals for a Working Time Directive and a Directive on temporary agency workers. In this, I hope we will have a sufficient measure of wisdom and political will to achieve compromise solutions.

The second pillar of our Presidency will cover further European discussions on demographic challenges. Our attention will be focused on the new intergenerational paradigm and on reinforcing new forms of solidarity between generations. Living together with respect for all generations is of prime importance when it comes to addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century. A particular example of this is the provision of high-quality, accessible long-term care.

Under the third pillar, which will be dedicated to social issues, the Slovenian Presidency will pay considerable attention to combating poverty. In present-day Europe, child poverty, the poverty of young people and social exclusion are not acceptable. Eight years ago, European leaders set themselves the goal of significantly alleviating poverty and social exclusion by 2010. The target year is coming ever closer and it is time we took practical action in this direction.

The priority tasks of the Slovenian Presidency will therefore include the preparation of a new cycle of the open method of coordination in the areas of social protection and social inclusion as well as further reinforcement of positive interactions between the Lisbon Agenda and common social objectives of the Member States. Our aim is, in cooperation with the European Parliament, to adopt a decision designating 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.

One of the important building blocks that these efforts represent is the modernisation of social services of general interest leading to improved accessibility and quality. The Slovenian Presidency believes that efforts are needed to pursue activities in this area. We will endeavour to establish a consistent European framework for social services that will take account of and respect national traditions.

The legislative process under this pillar is also of particular importance. We are determined to pursue the adoption of the Directive on the portability of supplementary pension rights. The Council has successfully resolved most of the outstanding questions. All we need is a modicum of political will to take the final decisive step.

I would particularly like to highlight the Presidency’s efforts towards achieving progress in the coordination of social security systems. It is true that this is a demanding technical dossier; however, the final result will directly contribute to higher standards in assuring social security for our citizens.

Within the fourth pillar, the Slovenian Presidency will further step up activities aimed at ensuring equal opportunities and preventing discrimination against persons with disabilities. To this end, we will give particular attention to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As the presiding country, we are committed to ratifying the Convention and the Optional Protocol at the earliest possible opportunity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These, in brief, are the priority tasks of the Slovenian Presidency. Before listening to your initiatives and answering questions, I would like to invite you to the informal ministerial meeting and the Presidency conferences. Such events are an excellent opportunity to exchange opinions.

Thank you for your attention and thank you, Madam Chair, for giving me the floor.


Accessibility     . Print     .

Date: 22.01.2008