In his remarks after the informal meeting of the members of the European Council on 30 January, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said that Heads of State and Government recognise that financial stability in itself is not enough to get out of the economic crisis."We must do more, in particular on growth and employment."
EU leaders focused on three immediate priorities: jobs, especially for young people, completion of the single market and opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. They called for stronger structural growth, enhanced competitiveness and job creation combined with fiscal consolidation. Wherever possible, efforts made at the national level will be supported by EU action.
Member states were invited to make a particular effort to improve job supply and reduce youth unemployment. Within a few months after leaving school, for example, young people should be offered a job, further education or an apprenticeship. EU funds could be redirected towards support for getting young people into work or training. The EU will also support enhanced mobility for both students and cross-border workers.
The single market is a key driver for Europe's economic growth. The EU should make the best possible use of its growth-creating potential through reaching agreement on standardisation, on energy efficiency and on the EU patent. E-commerce and the digital economy should be promoted, as well as trade.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are experiencing difficulties in finding banks willing to provide loans. As they are main providers of jobs, it is vital to boost their access to financing. The EU leaders want to mobilise the structural funds in favour of SMEs and strengthen the European Investment Bank's support for SMEs and infrastructure. The business environment of SMEs should be improved by cutting red tape.
Statement of the members of the European Council (pdf)
Press conference webcast