EU 'cannot be just about bankers'

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton  says financial markets and wealthy elites also cannot be allowed to 'dictate our future'. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton says financial markets and wealthy elites also cannot be allowed to 'dictate our future'. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

The EU "cannot just be about bankers" but must address citizens' needs, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said.

Financial markets and wealthy elites also cannot be allowed to "dictate our future", she told a conference of the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU institution representing business and social groups.

"If the EU had a failing it was that it allowed the doctrine of market fundamentalism to dominate," she added.

Youth unemployment had to be tackled "to avoid the creation of a lost generation". The Minister said she was seeking backing among other EU states for a "youth guarantee" to guarantee people under 25 a job, training or place in education after being out of work for a period of time.

Ms Burton said she hoped to get support for the plan from EU social protection ministers meeting in Duin next week.

She said the EU needed a "success story" and getting a deal on the promissory notes and broader debt was important for Ireland in exiting of the bailout programme.

Irish taxpayers had "already contributed too much" to the EU's recovery and the union should therefore help Ireland exit its bailout programme, said Luca Jahier, one of the presidents of the committee's group.

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