The Commission wishes to emphasize employment strategy in Europe, social policy, cohesion policy and focus on education and training policy. This issue is especially important as it is on the minds of European citizens and the Commission is preoccuppied with the concerns and ideas of the citizens of Europe. Although the unemployment problem is better than it was 15 years ago, (the macro economic situation is considered to be generally stable, with a relatively low inflation rate among European nations) slow growth in the EU over the past two years has resulted in weak overall labour performance. President Jacques Santer is especially concerned with the fact that longterm unemployment is degrading to those who are deprived of a job for a considerable amount of time, and that half of the unemployed are unskilled workers who might very well be permanently excluded from the labour market. He is also concerned with the 21% unemployment rate of young people in Europe. A completion of the Internal Market as well as an active European Industrial Policy are considered vital for job recovery. Structural measures are also required to help the labour market function more efficiently .
There is much discussion about preparing for the third and final stage of the EMU. The recent Essen Summit reaffirmed the respect for the criteria on public finances, inflation and currency stability. The Commission perceives the coordination of economic policies of the European Union members as a necessary prerequisite for success in the fight against unemployment. In fact, the EMU is seen as one aspect of the EU's more general goal of growth and competitiveness.
The Commission seeks to strengthen and complete the Internal Market. By emphasizing the "sectors of the future" such as biotechnology and research an=d development; and stressing the importance of infrastructure and transport, the Commission hopes to make the EU more compettive in the global arena while also creating more jobs. Thus, unlike during the protectionist era of the 1970s, the European Industrial Policy of today is one which stresses market liberalisation and global competitivity.
After Austria, Finland and Sweden successfully joined the EU, other central and eastern European nations began looking to join the Union. The Commission sees as its job to determine where these "eastern neighbours can align their policies with those of the Union:" Again, enlargement holds potential for market growth and job creation, as the largest single market in the world would become even bigger with the addition of these nations. However, economic cordination might prove difficult betweeen these nations and the other EU members, and this remains a serious concern especially in light of the EMU's looming deadlines.
A failure to come up with a coordinated foreign policy on a number of global issues and crisis' has led to discussion for the need of a coherent and coordinated EU foreign policy. In particular, the lack of a coherent stance on such issues as the Middle East and former Yugoslavia has highlighted the need for a unified EU foreign policy.
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