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Social summit for fair jobs and growth. Session 1: Access to the labour market

Gothenburg , 

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Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to take part in this session.

This Summit, and the signing of the European Pillar of Social Rights, represent something positive at a time of fracture within Europe and beyond.

Our common purpose is to foster growth in tandem with a fair, inclusive and sustainable jobs market.

Too often it has been argued that these two things are mutually exclusive.

But in fact there is no trade-off between economic efficiency and social justice.

These things can reinforce one another.

Indeed they must.

Because where we witness the reverse in Europe today – where growth benefits only a small minority, and inequality escalates – this yawning gap leads to social division and the loss of democratic security.

Ensuring fair and equitable access to the labour market, for every woman and man, is an important element of this equation.

We already know many of the solutions that can help deliver this.

Economic policy that aims to deliver full employment should shape the conditions to create and preserve jobs, support those who become jobless, and provide education and skills for all as an opportunity to learn and get ahead.

Fair and just working conditions are also of the utmost importance.

It is possible to counteract uncertainty in the jobs market without sacrificing flexibility.

Fair wages for all, addressing the gender pay gap and providing rights for all workers including part-time or temporary employees and the self-employed: these matter.

So too does strong dialogue between employers and trade unions.

Because European history teaches us that collective labour rights are key to fair and effective labour markets.

The Council of Europe’s Social Charter obliges its member states to respect these rights, to the benefit of their citizens.

By making the Charter central to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights we can create a virtuous cycle of shared and sustainable growth.

It will also help prevent the vicious cycle of social dumping.

Building a Europe in which citizens experience shared, sustainable growth is key to rebuilding public trust.

This is one the major challenges of our time.

I look forward to sharing and hearing ideas today about the way in which we can work together for the fair and free access to the labour market which is so crucial to that quest.