Jobs top business agenda for EU presidency

 

INDUSTRY leaders have called on the Government to take advantage of the upcoming EU presidency to highlight the importance of pursuing competitiveness for job growth.

The Irish Business and Employers' Confederation (IBEC) and the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI), have published a joint submission setting out their principle priorities for the presidency.

The paper highlights five major themes:

. improving Europe's competitive position;

. ensuring a smooth transition to monetary union;

. completing the internal market;

. implementing an effective employment strategy;

. a successful conclusion to the Inter Governmental Conference

The Government must address the problems of over regulation, high costs and uncompetitiveness if it is to unlock Europe's job creation potential, the paper states.

The paper calls on the Government to ensure that the Dublin Summit in December 1996 adopts conclusions on an action plan to eliminate the EU's competitive deficit and target regulatory reform.

Other proposals include a re direction of structural funds to make national economies more competitive and a commitment by member states to reform state aid and practice.

The document also calls on the Government to ensure that technical preparatory work on the new single currency is completed and to set up a Euro wide communications initiative on EMU.

A decision must also be taken on the monetary arrangements for countries that no do not qualify for the first stage of monetary union.

More controversially, it also calls for proposals on a stability pact to be put under active consideration.

The paper also asks for action on the internal market to ensure that it will be a genuine reality by January 1st, 1999.

On employment, the paper proposes reallocating structural funds to promote employment initiatives at a local level as well as looking at the link between deregulation and employment, and setting up a committee on competitiveness and employment to replace the standing committee on employment.

On top of the five key priorities, the paper also demands action on a number of other fronts including social affairs, external relations, telecommunications, transport, environment, energy and research.

Mr Peter Brennan, director of the Irish Business Bureau, the Brussels office which represents IBEC and CCI, stressed that the presidency "should be remembered not for the quantity of the proposals adopted, but for the quality of the actions and initiatives it delivers".

He added that, in the past, EU presidencies have adopted important decisions while not taking the views of business and employers into account. "Hence IBEC and CCI have submitted their views in good time," he said.