Barroso slams decision to scrap EU jobs summit

27th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday criticized European leaders' decision to scrap a planned summit dedicated to the jobs crisis.

STRASBOURG, March 25, 2009 (AFP) - "To be open and frank, I was disappointed with this decision, I would have preferred that all 27 member states devote the time necessary to discuss together the best way forward on what is after all the key issue for European citizens in this crisis," Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

"Of course we know that most of the instruments are at national level, but that should not be a reason for the EU leaders not to discuss at the European level the way they can coordinate their actions," he added.

Belgium, Britain, France, Germany and Italy among others decided at a meeting of European leaders in Brussels last Friday that a full-blown EU unemployment summit, scheduled for May 7, would give citizens false hopes just ahead of European elections in June.

The meeting will still take place in Prague as planned with social partners, but with a pared down format of a "troika" -- the current Czech and future Swedish and Spanish EU presidencies.

The EU executive commission and the Czechs had planned on reassembling the 27 heads of state and government to thrash out the issue.

The European Union's Eurostat data agency estimates that 18.412 million people were unemployed in the 27-nation bloc in January.

Earlier this month the BusinessEurope employers association predicted that some 4.5 million Europeans risk losing their jobs this year due to the increasingly severe recession.

Parliamentary socialist group leader Martin Schulz also called the scrapping of the jobs summit "a serious error... at a time when millions of people fear losing their jobs".

Barroso insisted that "the format should be kept open so that all prime ministers who want to do attend should have the opportunity to do that."


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