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Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Hatzidakis: It would be a mistake for the EU not to mobilize for energy and precision

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“We call on the European Union to stand in solidarity with the efforts made by all governments, to protect their citizens from the effects of the crisis” the Minister of Labor said among other things

“The energy crisis and the wider precision wave it has sparked is the number one problem in Europe right now and it is hitting the most vulnerable social groups hardest. For this, we call on the European Union to stand in solidarity with their efforts all governments, to protect their citizens from the effects of the crisis. It would be wrong for the opposite to happen. A collective response at EU level is urgently needed, complementing and reinforcing national measures, as the problem is still ahead of us.”

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This was stated by the Minister of Labor and Social AffairsKostis Hatzidakisspeaking at the Council of EU Employment Ministers, which took place yesterday in Brussels and focused on social policy issues, in the light of developments on the energy crisis front.

Mr. Hatzidakis noted that the Greek government has taken emergency measures this year, amounting to 4.8 billion euros, to support households and businesses, which are affected by high energy costs and imported inflationary pressures.

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He emphasized that the programs to support employment and the reintegration of the unemployed into the labor market have multiplied in the last three years, thanks also to the utilization – to the maximum extent possible – of European funds.

He also highlighted the importance the government attaches to training and retraining the unemployed and employed as a tool to support employment.

The Minister of Labor referred to training programs for 120,000 unemployed in digital and green skills, which are already being implemented with great success, but also in the large program to upgrade the skills of 150,000 workers, which is going to “run” soon, with funding (for both programs) from the Recovery Fund. He noted that the priorities set by the European Commission for the promotion of employment and social cohesion are completely aligned with the corresponding priorities of the Greek government.

The Council also discussed a proposal for a European Commission Directive to improve the working conditions of employees on digital platforms. In his intervention, Mr. Hatzidakis underlined that Greece was one of the first countries to adopt relevant legislation based on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice. In particular, he underlined that the Law on Labor Protection, which includes the regulations in question, ensures personal and work safety conditions for those employed on digital platforms, while facilitating the further development of this activity. The relevant discussions in the Council of Ministers of Employment will continue.

During the ministers’ lunch, as indicated in a statement by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, there was a discussion about policies to support families, in the context of dealing with the demographic problem. Mr. Hatzidakis said that Greece is, together with Italy, among the European countries where the demographic pressures are very strong. In this context, he informed his counterparts about the measures taken by the government to expand and upgrade the quality of the childcare services provided (30,000 more children in nurseries and KDAP-KDAP-Disabled, Neighborhood Babysitters program, creation of 120 childcare places in companies, “Kypseli” program), but also for the expansion of parental leaves (14 days paternity leave, extension of maternity allowance in the private sector from 6 to 9 months, etc.). As Mr. Hatzidakis noted, the government’s latest program, entitled “My Home”, seeks, among other things, to contribute to addressing the demographic problem, facilitating new couples and young people in general in their new beginning their lives.

Finally, the Council discussed the European Strategy for Care, which was recently presented by the Commission and whose aim is on the one hand to ensure quality, affordable and accessible care services and on the other hand to improve the working conditions for the people who provide them. In addition, a Directive was approved, which strengthens the levels of protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work.

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