Barroso criticises pace of labour reform


The European Commission has today criticised EU members for failing to implement labour reform laws designed to boost employment and stimulate growth.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said it was "incomprehensible" that member states were still not fully implementing growth-friendly legislation.

His comments came as the European Commission unveiled a new set of measures aimed at creating employment.

"To create jobs across Europe and to meet the Europe 2020 employment target requires the concerted efforts of all actors," said Mr Barroso. "I would urge the member states to move forward quickly to take the necessary steps at national level to help foster such conditions."

The new job creation measures outlined by the EU Commissioner for Employment László Andor earlier today set out ways for member states to encourage further hiring of staff by reducing taxes on labour and through supporting business start-ups.

The proposals also include calls for a more efficient use of hiring subsidies and a concentrated focus on key sectors such as the green economy.

The job creation measures come after official statistics showed that the EU-27 unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 10.2 per cent in February.

There are now 24.5 million people without work in the European Union and if it is to meet its own 75 per cent employment target it needs to create 17.6 million new jobs. Recent figures also indicate that between 2008 and mid-2011 some six million jobs were lost while just 1.5 million were created.

Mr Barroso said during his speech that the European Union was experiencing a crisis of competitiveness as much as a fiscal debt issue.

"In order to sustain our social model, we need to pursue not just fiscal consolidation but also regain our competitiveness. So, competitiveness is key to sustain our social market economy," he said.

"We have learnt from the past. We cannot have growth mainly fuel by debt and imbalanced growth where one sector expands to the detriment of others. Growth has to be built on the foundation of competitiveness; it should be social inclusive and environmentally sustainable," he added.

Mr Barroso denied suggestions not enough had been done to assist Greece and rejected calls for cuts to EU programmes.

"Let me also say to you very frankly that I do not understand how it is possible that in this especially difficult moment for Europe, while we have in some countries, in many regions a real social emergency and indeed an increase of social difficulties and in some cases poverty, that some governments in Europe are now calling for cuts in European programmes, such as the globalisation adjustment fund and the support for the very poorest in our societies," he said.

"Responsibility must be matched by solidarity. And I see that we are not doing enough in terms of solidarity at European level," he added.