On the fringe of the European Council on 19th March 2009 it was announced that the Employment Summit scheduled to take place on 7th May in Prague will now be downgraded to a small discussion round. The only participants will be the Presidents of the Commission and the European Council and the EU Social partners.
Having reached agreement on several financial packages, the European Council started promising:
  • With regard to infrastructure plans in the sector of energy and broadband networks, the 27 Heads of Government agreed on a € 5 billion package. € 200 million will, among others, be invested in the Nabucco Project.
  • Funds for the Member States, which have been particularly affected by the crisis, will be raised from € 25 to € 50 billion within the scope of the stabilisation initiative for Central and Eastern Europe.
  • Emphasis was once again put on the joint course of action to tackle the crisis via economic support programmes of the Member States, which show a volume of about € 400 billion resp. 3.3 %. Members of the European Council did not forget to point out that after the crisis the public finances should again be based on the Stability and Growth Pact.
  • The EU will contribute € 75 billion to the planned doubling of the capital of the International Monetary Fund to € 500 billion. Within the scope of the discussion on the next G20 Meeting, the EU also requests that the IMF should play a key role as the fire brigade of the financial crisis. No subject of discussion for the European Council, however, were the criteria according to which the IMF makes funds available.
Finally, the European Council came to the conclusion, which is of particular importance for Austria, that no EU Member State should end up on the Black List for tax oases, which is on the discussion agenda of the G20 Summit.

Anything else but positive was the announcement to downgrade the Employment Summit in Prague, which had been planned for 7th May: now discussions will just include the European Commission President Jose Barroso, the Czech President of the European Council Mirek Topolánek and the EU Social partners. According to latest information, the meeting might also not take part in Prague but in Brussels. The reason for this change were concerns that an Employment Summit would attract too many high expectations. According to the decisions of the European Council, however, no further (financial) measures are planned. A very disappointing and not comprehensible change of plan, in particular in view of the strongly rising unemployment figures in the EU27: at 18.4 million in January 2009, about 2.2 million more persons were unemployed than in the previous year.

Further information:

Conclusions of the European Council 19/20 March 2009