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European Council must get its priorities right on Lisbon Strategy - Mary Lou McDonald

14 April, 2005


Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that 'the European Council has chosen to almost exclusively focus on 'competitiveness' as its sole objective, at the expense of environmental and social development'.

Ms McDonald made her comments in response to the conclusions of the European Council in Brussels in late March 2005.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"The European Council meeting in Brussels on March 22nd/23rd is a useful barometer of the present priorities and direction of the European Council and European Commission. In re-launching the Lisbon strategy, the European Council has chosen to almost exclusively focus on 'competitiveness' as its sole objective,deepening liberalisation policies, increasing flexibility of labour markets, reducing workers' benefits and enlarging low-wage sectors

"The Lisbon Agenda was founded on the basis of three planks: economic, environmental and social development. Earlier this year, I called for a complete overhaul of the Lisbon Agenda to afford equal weight and priority to all three dimensions . This has not happened. In fact, the Council meetings conclusions dedicate only one sentence to the fight against poverty and social exclusion and do not propose any further substantial action in this area.

"The realities of unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and income inequality have been ignored despite the Lisbon Summit's original commitment to 'make a decisive contribution to the eradication of poverty' by 2010.

"Sinn Féin has said consistently that citizens are demanding a shift in emphasis to one which will impact positively upon their lives. We are calling for all political actors in the European Union to publicly pledge their support for the 'Social Platform Tests for the Luxembourg Presidency' as the means to creating a Europe based upon equality". ENDS

Note to editors: The Social Platform tests for the Luxembourg Presidency are produced by pan European platform of social NGOs. The tests can be found at www.socialplatform.org

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