EU summit to focus on growth, jobs
Updated: 2013-03-14 06:52
BRUSSELS - European Union (EU) leaders are scheduled to meet in Brussels Thursday and Friday to iron out measures to promote growth and create jobs in Europe which is still mired in the debt crisis.
Despite "consistent and courageous" efforts taken at European and national levels, "we have yet to tackle the most immediate fears and concerns of many of our citizens," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday, referring to weak growth and high jobless rate.
Speaking to the European Parliament, Barroso said "there is justified disappointment about the slow recovery of the real economy," and "unemployment figures are unprecedented and simply unacceptable."
The eurozone economy registered the sharpest decline over four years in the last quarter last year, while the single currency area recorded a jobless rate of 11.9 percent this January, the highest level since the EU statistics office started to release such figures in 1995.
Barroso lamented that "implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs is too low and too slow," saying that "there has not yet been enough commitment to address social obligations. We have to be sensible to social needs."
According to the draft conclusions prepared by the President of the European Council for the Summit, EU leaders would discussing measures to better utilize the "Single Market," "a key driver for growth and jobs."
The EU might also consider easing the regulatory burden on small businesses.
"The Member States and the Commission should take work forward on smart regulation in the light of the Commission's recent communications, with a specific emphasis on the needs of SMEs," said the draft conclusions.
In his speech, Barroso also highlighted trade policy as "part of our growth agenda," referring to the EU's recent decision to start negotiations with the US on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
After agreeing the draft negotiating mandate Tuesday, the European Commission will continue to push hard to bring these "economically very promising talks to a successful conclusion," he said.