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European Council, Stockholm

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:05 pm on 26th March 2001.

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Photo of Baroness Jay of Paddington Baroness Jay of Paddington President of the Council, Privy Council Office 4:05 pm, 26th March 2001

My Lords, I would never wish to be in any sense discourteous to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, but I suspect that any agreement or understanding on any European summit basis about any issue would in his view always be a fairly considerable failure. Those are standards and bench-marks against which it is almost impossible to succeed. However, at the risk of exhausting the House, I am bound to repeat those matters on which, in terms of the Lisbon process, the Government feel that progress was made at Stockholm.

Most specifically, I turn to the issue of employment. Millions of new jobs have been created as a result of the liberalisation of trade. The block on car manufacturers will be removed, leading to a lowering of prices in this country. The liberalisation and improvements in technology and communications skills will entirely underpin the improvement in employment prospects for people in this country. Indeed, I have to say to the noble Lord that, as regards the review of the Lisbon process, I can see clearly the ways in which the European process--and the Lisbon process in particular--directly help and assist people in this country in their ambitions and their wishes as regards better employment prospects, better skills, better processes and so forth. Furthermore, as Minister for Women, I am only too delighted that specific attention was given to the employment of women as a new ambition of the European summit.

The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, asked whether issues such as the CAP were considered. I hope I made it clear that this summit was directed specifically at employment, thus fulfilling its ambition under the Lisbon process agreement. Specific additional topics were addressed, such as the foot and mouth crisis, the question of Macedonia and the visit of President Putin, which offered an opportunity for matters to be discussed with the Russian Government. However, the primary ambition of this summit was to consider employment and employability.