Summary: On December 11 in Vienna, at its first working morning, the European Council of Heads of State and Government of the European Union confirmed that the priority of economic policies, both at national and EU level, must be employment and the fight against exclusion. The Member State leaders also gave a favourable welcome to the Franco-German idea of an employment pact to complete the stability and growth pact adopted in Amsterdam in June 1997. At this stage the content of such a pact remains to be clarified over the months ahead. Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, said he was not opposed to such a pact, provided it is "to consolidate the decisions taken in Luxembourg" in November 1997. This sentiment was echoed by his Spanish counterpart, Jos Maria Aznar. The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, called on the Member States to have "new quantifiable and verifiable objectives for the future".

Guidelines In an annexed Franco-German letter, unveiled the day before the start of the Summit, France and Germany suggested to the Member States to commit themselves to achieve "binding and verifiable objectives" in the guidelines on employment. These new objectives should relate to "a reduction in youth and long-term unemployment". Some of the guidelines on employment, which were adopted at the extraordinary European Council in Luxembourg in November 1997 were quantified. The idea was primarily to give a new start to all young people before they had spent six months on the dole, and to all adults before they had been one year unemployed. The Franco-German proposal now wishes to take this further by strengthening the current guidelines. For 1999, the Member States also agreed to maintain the main thrust of the guidelines, with a few minor alterations to those which were adopted in 1997. In the light of these cosmetic changes in the guidelines, Lionel Jospin called for the establishment of a real multilateral monitoring mechanism which the Member States recoiled from doing in 1998 during the adoption of the joint report on employment (which assesses the 15...

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