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EESC President Henri Malosse

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The impact of the crisis on employment in the Baltic states

Joint conference organised by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Conference - Vilnius, Lithuania
poster of the conference

The Baltic States are facing the impact of the financial and economic crisis, which as elsewhere has turned into an employment crisis. Different EU countries have been affected by the crisis in different ways, but its impact has been particularly serious in the Baltic States. In 2008, after successive years of strong economic growth, their economy took a sharp downturn, doubling the unemployment rate. As regards employment sectors, the construction industry was hardest hit, followed by real estate.

Measures to cut the deficit – the economic austerity programme – are radical. There are fears that the rise of taxes would deteriorate the situation by reducing consumption, increasing pressure on business and the level of unemployment. Social benefits (pensions, unemployment benefits, child allowances) are cut as part of government plans to balance the budget. Wages are also declining. As a result emigration from the Baltic states has risen sharply.

The objectives of this conference are:

  1. to initiate an extremely necessary and timely discussion in the Baltic States;
  2. to bring closer together the three Baltic Member States that find themselves in a very similar situation but without any firm cooperation. The conference will allow ministers, parliamentarians and social partners to meet their counterparts and design possible solutions together;
  3. to initiate a discussion at European level and draw the attention of European institutions and the general public to the effects the crisis has had on employment and social cohesion in the Baltic states;
  4. to enhance social dialogue in the Baltic States;
  5. to express EU support to the Baltic States in countering the disappointment of their populations and to come up with possible EU responses to tackle the consequences of the crisis on employment and society on the whole in these relatively new EU Member States;
  6. to attract the attention of European media to the crisis-affected society of the Baltic States.