PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR SOCIAL DIALOGUE, CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES AND THE MINISTRY FOR EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT: ‘Making Work Pay’ on top of the agenda of EU Social Affairs and Employment Ministers Informal Meeting

During the first day of the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Social Affairs and Employment (EPSCO) held in Valletta, the Maltese Presidency discussed the ‘Making Work Pay’ agenda.

Plenary discussions held between EU Ministers-which were presided over by Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Helena Dalli and Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo-addressed inequalities in the EU labour market and the strengthening of the labour force through knowledge and skills, respectively.

In her opening address, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said that “Gaps between rich and poor, inequalities between men and women, young and old-this type of inequality undermines people’s faith in a just society. All our efforts are geared towards making sure that everyone can put their talent to work.”

Tackling the issue of social investment, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Helena Dalli stated that in a social market economy, we must ensure that opportunities do not lead to new vulnerabilities, inequalities and to a lower awareness of rights.

“Social investment is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win situation, from which European societies can benefit. Economic efficiency and social equity should be pursued at the same time”, added Helena Dalli.

Minister Dalli spoke of the need for improved working conditions which lead to enhanced efficiency and productivity and which can boost competitiveness.

Helena Dalli described the promotion of real and effective social dialogue as an important part of the effort in ensuring decent working conditions. In this regard, the Minister added that social partners have a key role to play in striking the appropriate balance between flexibility and security and fostering competitive as well as inclusive labour markets.

Contributions on this aspect were also dealt with by Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Heinz Koller and by Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofond) Juan Menendez-Valdes.

Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo believes that work has significantly evolved in response to the gradually transforming patterns and processes shaping Europe’s social systems. Combatting unemployment rates and generating high-quality work remains an imperative for Europe so as to maintain its regional and global significance. Additionally, fostering measures to enhance innovation, entrepreneurship, market adaptability and retaining competitiveness are crucial in order for member states to be able to actively interpret, engage with and shape current and long-term economic needs. For this reason, integrating new measures for the acquisition of knowledge and skills as part of active labour market policies serves to create the right social investment environment empowering citizens to actively seek social mobility.

Minister Bartolo spoke of the need for member states to actively reflect on the future role of the EU by focusing on the commitment to develop knowledge and skills and to create sustainable make-work-pay strategies.

Following the outcome of this Informal Meeting, Malta will prepare draft Council conclusions with the aim of promoting initiatives aimed at incentivising those in unemployment to enter the labour market.

The Informal EPSCO meeting will proceed on Tuesday and will focus on the ‘Labour Market as a Vehicle for Social Inclusion’.

Source: Government of Malta