EC states told they must boost employment

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(First Edition)

THE EUROPEAN Community must collectively pay more attention to boosting jobs and economic prospects, a senior member of the EC Commission said yesterday.

Henning Christophersen, the commissioner responsible for finance, said the predictions for 1993 growth that he was due to present in the next few weeks would make grim reading. 'Everyone is experiencing slow growth and growing unemployment. It is up to us to address these things. It is what people expect from us,' he said.

Member states should take care of the demand side, he said, but he insisted that the EC as a collective had a role to play in promoting supply-side policies. The single market programme might be speeded up, he said.

The EC's monetary committee and committee of central bank governors are being asked to consider the possibilities before the Edinburgh summit in six weeks' time.

Finance ministers also discussed the cohesion fund created by the Maastricht treaty to help the EC's four poorest countries to finance infrastructure and environmental projects. To qualify for this money, the sum of a country's national wealth divided by its population must be less than 90 per cent of the EC average.

By some calculations, the lamentable state of the British economy means Britain would qualify for the fund. Although there has been no formal request, British suggestions that the fund should be flexible have led to speculation that the Government might one day seek funds.