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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Chief Ireland Vows Aid For Jobless

DUBLIN -- Irish Prime Minister John Bruton said the European Union's 18 million unemployed felt marginalized in the bloc's quest for economic growth, and he vowed to tackle the blight during Dublin's EU presidency.

"One has to accept that European employment has not matched Europe's economic performance. The unemployed have been left behind," he told a news conference Tuesday, the second day of Ireland's six-month presidency.

Bruton said his government would strive to make the EU relevant to its 350 million citizens by dealing with their concerns: unemployment, crime, security threats posed by crises such as Bosnia. "Over the years the EU has been seen by its citizens to be working on something which may be very important but which the citizens found hard to say what it would mean to them," he said.

"At this point in the Union we are working on programs which are much more relevant to citizens, such as the threat of organized crime," Bruton added.

He acknowledged that Ireland typifies the EU's dilemma, possessing one of the highest growth rates at seven percent but also a 13 percent unemployment rate.

But Ireland has created more jobs in the past 12 months than in the previous 30 years through investment in small and medium-sized enterprises and Bruton said Dublin would encourage such strategy in the entire EU.

He felt cutting joblessness was vital "so as few European citizens as possible are excluded from this great democratic exercise."

EU Commission President Jacques Santer said Ireland proved that meeting the Maastricht criteria for European Monetary Union was not exclusive from job-creation. Santer sought to address Masstricht's critics when he added that "sound public finances are a prerequisite for job recovery and job creation."

Santer and Bruton spoke after the Irish government met the EU Commission to create a six-month work schedule.

Santer made light of problems posed by British elections, due by next May, which could affect EU plans for treaty revision and enlargement. "I don't think we can always adapt our agenda, our program, to the election of one member state," Santer said.

He said he hoped the Irish government would do much of the drafting work for EU enlargement by the time of the Dublin summit. The plans involve proposals to extend qualified majority voting on EU decisions and suggestions by some member states to end the practice of each country nominating one EU commissioner, which Ireland opposes.

Bruton said EU security concerns increased because of Bosnia: "There was evidence of genocide less than 100 miles from EU borders, that was profoundly disturbing."