SPAIN/BELGIUM- An informal meeting of Europe’s employment and social policy ministers in the Spanish city of Burgos ended on Saturday with the Spanish minister for labour and social affairs, Juan Carlos Aparicio, demonstrating a sense of urgency saying that five years on from the Luxembourg agreement and reform is now more important given the economic situation in Europe.

The minister said that pensions policy would be formulated around the three principles of adequacy, sustainability and modernisation. He also called for a flexible approach to employment that allows older people to participate in the labour market and to remain in work for as long as possible.

On the agenda was the subject of job creation, a matter that delegates deemed an essential element for the progress of Europe’s social protection. The meeting finished with ministers vowing to turn the slogan of “more and better jobs” for everyone into a reality. Delegates backed the target set at the Laeken Summit, that the EU achieve an average employment rate of 70% by the year 2010.

The presidency and the Commission have planned another seminar in Lanzarote on the 4th and 5th of February to compare the ways in which Europe’s various pension systems are responding to ageing populations. Delegates will also present and discuss the results of reforms aimed at extending working life, discouraging early retirement and encouraging workers to remain in the labour market.