Euro watch: sweden sets out sex equality goals

Gender
equality has been set out as a priority for the first Swedish Presidency of the
European Union following an informal meeting of  Social Affairs Ministers and the Commissioner for Employment and
Social Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou in Sweden. The meeting, "Gender
equality and social insurance – an engine for economic growth", set out
conclusions which emphasised the economic arguments.

It
focused on the need to structure tax, benefit and social security systems. Issues
covered included equality for men and their right to bring up their own
children.

Gender
equality goals

Diamantopoulou
said, "Gender equality rules will remain a dead letter unless they are
enforced on the ground". She challenged the member states to enforce
remedial action.

Five
main points arose:


Sustained economic growth in Europe will necessitate an increase in employment


European economic policy and social security structures must be informed by
gender equality goals


Parental insurance schemes must be extended


Child day-care facilities must be available for job and family demands


Sustainable pension schemes are vital to combat poverty

The
meeting suggested that a European institute for equal opportunities could be a
useful body to establish, particularly to monitor and eventually remove pay
differentials and exchange good practice.

In
an unusual result for an informal meeting, the conclusions, in particular the
social dimension of pensions and the need to combat poverty, will be taken to the
Stockholm Summit which begins on March 23.

Other
agenda priorities

At
Lisbon a year ago, the European Council defined an ambitious strategy to make
the EU "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world,
capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater
social cohesion".

The
commission has published a report ordered by the Council: Realising The
European Union’s Potential: Consolidating and extending the Lisbon strategy.

This
proposes adoption of inter-mediary employment targets for the year 2005 in
addition to targets agreed for 2010 at the Lisbon summit. It also pushes for
work on the free movement of people to be speeded up.

Education,
lifelong learning and investment policies should also be targeted to close the
IT skills gap. And there should be a coordinated European approach to the
demographic challenge of an ageing population and to social inclusion.

More
news


European agreement on teleworking reached


European Social Funds to be directed into human resources – Commission adopts
strategy for investment in people

Details
can be found on the Employment and Social Affairs Directorate website: www.europa.eu.int

By
Susan Gibas secretary general of the European Human Resource Network, a
cross-sectoral information network for European employers and HR strategists
dealing with issues of employment and the labour market in Europe.  Contact 
sue@gibas.be

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