The Employment Summit was well intended but doomed to failure right from the start. Originally planned as a special summit of the heads of state and government, it dwindled into a “Troika meeting” of the current Czech and future Swedish and Spanish EU Council Presidencies. A serious setback for the Czech Presidency. The result too is just proof of the shortcomings of the Czech Presidency, as it was not even capable of getting the support of the European Social partners.
Ten Point Plan of Presidency and Commission a letdown
The EU Employment Summit on 7th May 2009 last week in Prague, which had already been downgraded in the run-up, made it its target to develop measures against the economic and employment crisis in order to combat sharply rising unemployment and to calm the growing social insecurity, which made thousands of people in Europe take to the road. The result was a Ten Point Plan, which called on the EU 27 to present plans for improving access to employment, in particular for young people as well as for promoting and supporting labour requirements and mobility. Unfortunately this attempt turned out to be a complete flop. What would have been needed to counteract the crisis effectively, was a coordinated approach of all European Member States and their associated players. The now recommended Ten Point Plan can only be described as being of an informal nature, whereby the fact that it is only carried by 3 Member States and the Commission renders it rather worthless.

European Trade Union Confederation refuses to approve of Ten Point Plan
The Czech Presidency tried everything in the run-up to the Employment Summit to make the European Social partners also sign the Ten Point Programme. According to informed circles, the Czech Presidency announced even one day before the summit, at a meeting of the Permanent Representative to the EU in Brussels that the European Social partners had given their approval. Unbelievable, if one takes into account that European Social partners are not even permitted to attend a meeting of the Permanent Representatives and that any approval could therefore only have been suggested. Due to the fact, however, that contradictory press releases were in circulation, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) wasted no time in clarifying that no approval had been given.

Czech Minister President causes a stir at the summit
Making the statement "If you look for work you`ll find it" Mirek Topolanek, the former Czech Minister President caused a stir at a press conference covering the Employment Summit. In particular in times of the worst economic and employment crisis for decades one can only shake one’s head. Hannes Swoboda, SPÖ MEP and Vice President of the Social Democratic parliamentary party in the European Parliament, immediately demanded that Topolanek apologized for his statement. The President of the European Social Democrats Poul Nyrup Rasmussen had even said that the summit did not deserve its name as it had not come up with any concrete answers to tackle the financial crisis. One could not agree more, in particular if one looks at the Ten Point Plan in more detail. Hence, Europe’s workers have no other choice than continuing to wait for concrete answers and one can only hope that these will be supplied in adequate form not before too long.

Further information:

Main messages of the Employment Summit