During the European Economic and Social Committee's plenary session on 17 January, EU Council president Mr Van Rompuy and EESC members held a debate on the current guidelines of the European Council and future efforts to reinforce the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
The European Council and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) agreed that the social dimension was one of the cornerstones of the roadmap for economic and monetary union. "One thing we must never lose sight of when implementing our economic policies is the social dimension," said Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, who highlighted a range of aspects such as employment, social protection, education, public health, the challenge of an ageing population and the fight against poverty and exclusion. While signs seemed to indicate that the worst was over in the most serious crisis Europe had been faced with in decades, renewed stability was a mandatory first step towards economic growth, which itself was a precondition for improving the employment situation and creating new jobs and the EU citizens' prosperity.
EMU AND THE JUNE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
EESC president Staffan Nilsson recalled the Committee's 30 Proposals for "Stepping up for a stronger Europe", which comprised organised civil society's contribution to short- and medium-term reflection on overcoming the crisis and giving Europe new momentum. “We have an economic and social role. The views and demands of Europe's civil society need to be taken into account at European Council level. Let's step up for a stronger Europe and use a strong EU budget more efficiently to create sustainable growth and jobs,” said Mr Nilsson, who welcomed Mr Van Rompuy's request for an EESC opinion on measures to speed up economic recovery and job creation ahead of the June European Council.
Unanimous in their assessment, the presidents of the three EESC Groups (employers, workers and various interests) recalled the pressing obligation for national governments to take responsible decisions also towards European institutions to enter into a genuine dialogue with European citizens, who felt that their needs and demands were not sufficiently taken into account and, in spite of encouraging statistics, failed to perceive any improvement in the situation. They urged the European Council to think beyond growth and stability, putting solidarity first.
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