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.
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
said, "Gender equality rules will remain a dead letter unless they are
enforced on the ground". She challenged the member states to enforce
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
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.
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.
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
commission has published a report ordered by the Council: Realising The
European Union’s Potential: Consolidating and extending the Lisbon strategy.
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.
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.
European agreement on teleworking reached
European Social Funds to be directed into human resources – Commission adopts
strategy for investment in people
can be found on the Employment and Social Affairs Directorate website: www.europa.eu.int
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