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Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s speech at the high-level meeting on fair conditions in the labour market

Published Updated

Brussels, 25 June 2015

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Friends and Colleagues,

Charles, Xavier, Mark and I would like to welcome you to this roundtable discussion. The issues are complex and points of view differ.

Let me give you mine: Europe needs open markets and fair working conditions – together. Some say this is a contradiction in terms. As I see it, it is a win-win-win situation. A win for employees. A win for employers. And a win for our societies.

Together, they contribute to inclusive and innovative societies. And strengthen productivity and competitiveness.

We all know the reality: - Workers from the EU, and also from other parts of the world, are not always paid what they should be. They are too often exposed to dangerous situations, because no one takes responsibility for safety at their workplaces. - Rogue companies put reputable companies out of business through unfair competition. And the result is that we lose both productivity and competitiveness.

None of this is acceptable. Not financially, not morally, not in any way.

So what should be the way forward?

We need to show that the European Union can improve people's working lives. This is essential to maintaining legitimacy and the confidence of European citizens.

We should strengthen workers' rights, stop unfair competition and the abuse of regulations. We must stand up for the principle of equal pay for equal work.

And we should strengthen the dialogue with the business community and smooth the path for reputable companies so that they can grow and create new jobs.

All this should be done, knowing that there is no 'one size fits all' solution. Methods for regulating national labour markets vary between Member States. And that is a good thing.

I appreciate the Commission's efforts, both in enhancing the social dialogue and preparing a Labour Mobility Package. I urge you to be ambitious.

We, the leaders, must also make sure we follow this up in our discussions on growth and employment at an upcoming European Council meeting.

I am now eager to hear your views and thoughts on how to advance this pressing matter.