Press Release - “The Cyprus Presidency acknowledges the need for employment policy to become an EU priority”
07.09.2012, 17:42 (CET)
The Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, represented the Cyprus Presidency today at a conference on employment policy, under the title "Jobs for Europe", organised by the European Commission in Brussels. The conference was built on the Employment Package put forward by the Commission, the outcomes of the 2012 European Semester, but also on a series of conferences which the Commission organised during 2011. The Conference was structured around five main topics, which regard the build of a dynamic European labor market, the impact of the crisis on employment, the sectors with high job-creation potential, employment policy throughout the life cycle, and pathways to full employment.

Discussions centred on exploring new dimensions of employment policy, notably regarding the functioning of European labour markets, wage developments, flexicurity in a crisis context, and inequalities.

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus, who made the concluding remarks of the conference, the consequences of this multidimensional crisis cannot be overcome by fiscal consolidation alone, while it has been proven that a strict austerity policy  cannot by itself provide an adequate solution to the problems that many of the EU economies are currently facing. Long-term and inclusive job-rich growth, Ms Charalambous said, “can only be achieved through combined micro- and macroeconomic interventions, addressing both labour demand and supply securing at same time adequate social protection”.

Ms Charalambous highlighted that tackling youth employment should remain a priority for the Member States and the European Commission, while there is a need for investment in job – rich growth to arise from the evolving sectors of green economy, information and communication technologies, health and social care services. Ms Charalambous, stressed that “creating jobs is only one part of the equation, since it is crucial for these jobs to provide adequate social protection, and decent working arrangements and conditions”.

Connecting education and the labour market

At the same time, the Minister referred to the necessity of improving the links between education and the labour market , as well as investing in skills. To this end, increased cooperation and coordination between all stakeholders both at a national, but also at a European level, should be achieved. In this context, the minister highlighted that continuous investment in skills is perhaps one of the key elements in enhancing employability and improving employment security.

Minister Charalambous, further elaborated on the necessity female employment to be supported, since women still face problems in entering the labour market and retaining employment, while equality is an investment and a primary factor in achieving long-term sustainable growth.

A special focus, Ms Charalambous noted, should be given to promoting entrepreneurship and a favourable business environment, as well as in the exchange of good practices among member states. At the same time, “social partners have a crucial role in determining working conditions and wage levels, and in ensuring continuous skills development”, the Minister said, underlining that improving governance and multilateral surveillance to better monitor employment performance is key to keep the EU and Member states on track and ensure progress towards reaching the “Europe 2020” Strategy targets. 

Finally, Ms Charalambous mentioned that the outcomes and findings of this Conference will prove very useful in this respect and noted that “the Cyprus Presidency has acknowledged the need to work as a priority on this issue and therefore the Council currently elaborates relevant Council Conclusions for a job-rich recovery and giving a better chance to Europe's youth”.

The conference was addressed, among others, by European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy and Director-General of the International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder. Keynote speeches were given by 2010 Nobel Prize laureate, professor Christopher Pissarides and OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría. A fruitful discussion was developed on the main topics of the conference, in order to explore new dimensions of employment policy, notably regarding the functioning of European labour markets, wage developments, flexicurity in a crisis context, and inequalities.

Michaela Papadopoulou

Ministry of Labour & Social Insurance
European Affairs Unit
Telephone: +357 22401865
Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Marianna Karageorgis

Coreper I

Telephone: +32 27404002
Mobile: +32 473858237
Communications Officer
Maria Lantidou

Ministry of Labour & Social Insurance

Telephone: +357 22401676