[Interview] EU Commissioner for Employment Marianne Thyssen: The ASEM LEMC5 is going to play a significant role in forming the employment policies in Europe and Asia

23 November 2015

The EU Commissioner for Employment, Marianne THYSSEN, shares her thoughts on the upcoming 5th ASEM Labour and Employment Ministers' Conference (ASEM LEMC5)

In which areas of labour market relations do you find the greatest potential for cooperation between Europe and Asia?

The changing world of work has led to different experiences in Asia and Europe. But despite the differences, we also share many concerns. The pressure of increasing numbers of unemployed or underemployed young people can put economic and social progress in peril. The Sofia Conference gives us the opportunity to share what works best to improve young people`s access to the labour market and facilitate the transition from education to the job market, and the important role that governments, social partners and civil society can play in this. I will also share our experience with the European Youth Guarantee programmes which have led to bold structural reforms across Europe to help reduce youth unemployment.

Decent work and social protection are essential for the sustainable social development – this is what the leading theme of the meeting stands for. On your opinion, how do these factors affect the labour market and the quality of life? What will be achieved through the adoption of a common Asia-Europe vision for sustainable social development?

Decent work and social protection are durable investments in inclusive growth, social justice and stability. But we also see that too many people are still employed in vulnerable employment, including in the informal economy, with no or limited social protection and this hampers sustainable social development. 2015 has been an important year for sustainable development, especially with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda which has a strong social dimension and enjoys the support of all European and Asian countries of ASEM. The Conference in Sofia will give ASEM Labour and Employment Ministers the first opportunity to reflect together on the implementation and promotion of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This also includes commitments on decent work and social protection.

What are your expectations for the forthcoming conference? What are your expectations for the Bulgarian contribution to the sustainable dialogue in the field of labour market?

I very much appreciate that Bulgaria will host the 5th ASEM Labour and Employment Ministers Conference. The Sofia meeting is an excellent opportunity to exchange views on how dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe can contribute to inclusive growth and people`s welfare in both regions. I also expect that our Conference will contribute to multilateral and international efforts in the sphere of employment and social policy, including youth employment, supply chains and investment in human capacity. The Bulgarian perspective on all these issues will have a strong impact on the outcome of the Conference and, certainly, on the continuation of this successful cooperation between Asia and Europe within the ASEM framework.