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The following article was published by on 10th December 2009.

The European Union should equip itself with an “ambitious” social plan by spring 2010 in order to fight growing unemployment, EU leaders are expected to state at the conclusion of a two-day summit which opens in Brussels today (10 December).

Leaders will confirm the worrying scenario depicted by forecasts from across Europe. “The employment and social situation is expected to deteriorate further in 2010,” the European Council is set to reiterate.

According to European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) estimates, there are already 25 million unemployed people in the EU and this number is set to grow further in 2010. The European Commission has already forecast an EU unemployment rate of above 10% in 2010.

As a consequence, employment is set to drop below 62.4%, a level last reached in 2002, according to ETUC. In 2008 the employment rate stood at 65.9%.

Against this background, leaders will ask the European Commission to present a comprehensive plan to foster “socially inclusive growth”. The European Council “looks forward to an ambitious proposal as early as possible in 2010 with a view to a full discussion at the 2010 spring European Council,” reads the draft text, to be finalised by leaders tomorrow.

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