Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): I assume the Deputy is referring to the national employment action plan which is produced annually by my Department. The plan is Ireland’s response to the European employment strategy, or EES. The strategy is the process used to implement the employment objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. The employment guidelines which flow from the EES have set three overarching objectives. These are full employment, quality and productivity at work and strengthened social cohesion and inclusion.
My Department prepares the plan in consultation with other Departments and the social partners. It outlines the interdepartmental commitments and initiatives which will allow Ireland to meet the Lisbon employment objectives. The plan includes commitments made in a range of policy documents, Sustaining Progress, the national action plan for social inclusion, the national child care strategy and the task force report on lifelong learning. The plan was produced in 2003 and covers the commitments to be achieved over the period 2003-05. The recently produced 2004 plan outlines progress made to date. I will arrange to have a copy of the plan forwarded to the Deputy’s office as it details progress on a wide range of issues.
The key indicator of our success in achieving our employment objectives is our low unemployment rate. The Lisbon Agenda set the EU an overall employment rate target of 70% by 2010, with specific targets of 60% and 50% for female and older workers respectively. The targets set at Lisbon in 2000 were challenging at a time when the EU was enjoying GDP growth and falling unemployment. Notwithstanding the global economic downturn, Ireland has made steady progress towards achieving the targets. The table below sets out Ireland’s position in 1999, which was prior to the Lisbon Agenda, the comparable employment rates for Ireland and the 25 EU member states for 2003 and the Lisbon targets for 2010:
|Employment Rates||Ireland 1999||Ireland 2003||EU25 2003||Lisbon Target 2010|
|Older Workers Rate||43.7||49.0||40.2||50.0|
The report, Employment in Europe 2004, which was published recently by the European Commission, predicts that Ireland is likely to reach all three targets. The progress made in attaining the Lisbon targets is due to Government policies which continue to be pursued. Current policies are focused on responding to country-specific recommendations which were endorsed by the European Council in June, having taken account of the recommendations of the report of the employment taskforce.
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