Electronic Library of Scientific Literature
Volume 46 / No. 1 / 1998
Ivan OKÁLI - Herta GABRIELOVÁ - Egon HLAVATÝ - Karol MORVAY - Richard OUTRATA
GDP growth rate in the Slovak Republic in 1997, in comparison with other
transforming countries (and also with OECD countries), enjoyed an above-average
dynamic. In maintaining its high growth tempo, the continuing increase
in performance in the service sector and increases in building deserve
the credit. The fall in material product branches in comparison with their
pre-transformation levels was to a large extent offset by the service sector
The gradual overcoming of production declines tied to the transformation process is primarily the result of the rise in productivity of labour. The pre-transformation level of the economy as a whole, and in the majority of its branches, was achieved as early as l995. In l997, this level was significantly exceeded not only in services, but also in industry, and primarily in agriculture.
GDP growth in l997 (on the basis of data from the 1st to 3rd quarters) showed a l0.3% rate in gross production, in intermediate consumption, 10.9%, and a VAT income rise of 9.2%. In 1997 and l996, first three quarters, one unit of added value equalled l.77 and l.75 respectively of intermediate production, but in 1995, only l.63 units. In economically developed economies, the value of the above indicators hovers around one.
A characteristic feature of the branch structure development of the GDP is the decline over the past two years of the share of industry, from 32.2% in l995 to 30.0% in l996 and 28.2% a year later. The strong gains in industrial production continued in l997 only in the branches of cellulose and paper production, publishing and the press, in the manufacture of electric and optic equipment, and in transportation manufacture. A certain overcoming of the negative tendencies of l996 was evident in the production of oil products and metals and metal products. In all light manufacturing divisions, there was a decline in 1997, most sharply in leather finishing.
The finishing industry, as the most significant industry in terms of the export performance of the economy, has come to a certain intermediate stage, in which production growth has slowed due to some unresolved problems from the transformation recession, in addition to certain insufficiently resolved typical development-restructuring tasks. This is largely connected with the fact that the Slovak economy has for quite a time undervalued the positive contribution of direct foreign investment in the structural adaption process (more strongly accented in the recent period). Incidentally, in those industrial corporations in international private ownership (a l6% share in the industrial total) production grew by 66.0% in l997, with labour productivity up 52.9%.
Construction production showed for the first time in 1997 a marked increase (8.6%). Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect is that this rise resulted almost exclusively from an increase in the productivity of labour, which was accompanied by a significant real rise in value added (l8.1%). The increase was foremost in domestic building production, whose 12.4% offset a more than one-quarter fall in production abroad.
The agriculture situation stabilized in l997 at the level of the preceding two years, contributed to by advances in the price of agricultural products as opposed to that of industrial goods, by the good l997 grain harvest and by a l.7 bill. SKK increase in subsidies from the national budget.
The private sector share in the make-up of the gross domestic product grew by 5 points over the year before to 82.4%, the private share in agriculture rising to 93.5%, industry 72.7%, construction, 81.6% and trade and services, 95.6%
The situation on the labour market is connected to the development of the economic achievement. In contrast with the two previous years, which saw employment increasing, 1997 was a year of decline. This trend in overall employment resulted in a lower employment rate in the secondary sector (mostly in finishing industries) and a significant slowing of the rate in the third sector (stagnation in shopping, hotels and restaurants, repairs). After a reduction from 1994's 14.6% unemployment rate, last year saw a slight rise to 13.0%.
The roughly equal GDP growth rate (6.5%) in 1997 came from a very different demand structure. Domestic demand increased by 20.6% in the first three quarters of 1996, but by only 4.6% in the same period a year later, accounting for 100% of the total final demand in the former period, only 45% in the latter. The remaining 55% of total demand was made up by external demand. Along with stagnation of state demand and drop in demand in the creation of reserves, the 1997 growth in domestic demand rested on households and primarily demand connected with the creation of gross fixed capital. Four-fifths of the makeup of this capital was financed from national gross savings over this period, with the remaining fifth coming from foreign borrowings. From this it follows that a significant part of 1996 and 1997 GDP growth did not originate from the strength of the Slovak economy.
The crossing of the development possibilities given by gross national savings in the SR could also have in 1997 quickened the tempo of economic growth only by further destabilization of the external and overall economic balances.
Selected characteristics of internal and external equilibrium
Relation of the current account to GDP in %
Relation of hard-currency reserves to average monthly imports
Relation of the state budget account to GDP in %
Consumer price index
Relation between labour productivity index and real wages in the national economy
The positive evaluation of developments in the Slovak economy which
information on its performance leads to are to a high degree made problematic
by the data in table 1. The marked signs of inbalance (particularly the
passive account of the foreign trade balance and the current account, together
with the unfavourable results of the national budget) which began to appear
in 1996 were reproduced in 1997 to an equal level.
The significant external inbalance continued in l997 despite the fact that SR foreign trade had an overall healthier development than 1996, which led to a bettering of the current account payment balance. This development rose by 9.2% in 1997, i. e. 3.1 percent points higher than in 1996, in reality roughly by 4% (by 2% in 1996). On the other hand, import growth represented only 2.8% in current prices, substantially less than a year earlier (30.7%). As regards the increase of inflation and import prices (greater than the rise in export prices), it is estimated that import in l997 really meant a fall of about l.8%.
The quickening of the dynamic of export as against l996 was to a decisive degree influenced by the positive enlivening of the situation in western Europe and the consequent rise in external demand from those countries, especially for goods destined for manufacturing consumption.
The overall lessening of the import dynamic in Slovakia was influenced by government regulations for the protection of the domestic market in the first half of 1997. After their implementation, the rising trend of imports was pressed to a lower level. However the growth of imports continued in the 4th quarter of the year.
The dampening of exports, although on the one hand positively influencing the trade balance and creating a certain space for domestic production on the home market, was nonetheless a signal of an export performance incapable of meeting the flow of imports. Similarly, interfering with the import of modern technology as part of the investment process had its effect on the increase of labour productivity and future competitiveness.
As regards the foreign trade orientation in 1997, European Union countries again strengthened their position (42% of total), with the growth in those markets accounting for 94% of the year's total. The positive trends of 1996 in the goods structure of exports continued in 1997. Concretely, the share of goods primarily destined for manufacturing consumption characterized by a relatively lower degree of finishing fell, with a lower added value and higher quality of raw materials and energy. Conversely, the amount of machinery and vehicles rose.
The overall development of the payment balance showed that the dynamic of foreign capital does not meet the needs arising from the economic restructuring, and lags in comparison with neighbouring transforming countries.
The actual state revenues surpassed budget estimates (5.7%) to the same extent as expenditures overran their predictions. Therefore, the deficit essentially matched its planned level with the overall financial picture fulfilling budget expectations. In spite of this, they were, from several viewpoints, problematic.
Chief among these problems was the increasing deficit in 1997. The ratio of the deficit to the GDP has been increasing since 1995 (see table 1). The achieving of the planned budget deficit allowed the transfer of the settlement of some material expenses from the year to the following period, to the amount of 4 bill. SKK. Including these, the ratio would have stood at 6.4%.
A second, hidden, but nonetheless serious problem was the significant breakdown in the structure of accomplishing both revenues and expenses. On the income side, a low fulfilment of tax yields was due primarily to the insufficient (58%) take from the income of legal subjects. This was partially offset by a surplus in expected revenues from physical persons and in particular by income from the newly imposed import tax. On the expenditures side, the country solved the tension by the restrictions of current expenses. This however substituted for only the lesser part of its greatly overreached capital expenses.
The currency policy of the National Bank of Slovakia tried in 1997 to eliminate internal and external threats to its overall equilibrium. A relatively stable SKK exchange rate was also ensured by the inflation rate, which led to a further realistic valuation of the crown. The M2 currency aggregate grew more slowly than in the previous year. The expansive growth of expenditures in the government sector was neutralized by a slowing of the increase of bank credits to the enterprising sector.
The stabilizing regulations of the NBS did lead to a freezing of liquidity on the currency market, but also put into motion the interest rates of commercial banks. This was shown not only in the restricted dimension of loans, but also in the growth of expenses of debt servicing of the national budget. Through the increase in enterprises' financial expenses, the increase in the credit rate affected the development of prices. The inflation rate measured through the increase in consumer prices (and influenced only to a minor extent by state price regulation decrees) went up slightly from 1996's 5.8% to 6.1%.
Foreign indebtedness maintained a sensitive place in the monetary policy. Total gross foreign debt grew in the first eleven months of 1997 from 7.81 bill. USD to 10.72, a 37.2% rise. This was composed of a slight rise in official government debt, but primarily that of the business sector, by 46.5% or 2.77 bill. USD.
Predictions of economic development in 1998 start from the fact that in the SR's chief trade partners a positive prosperity reigns, and within a slightly restricted domestic demand, the growth tempo of investment demand has lessened. In the case of these conditions being realized, the GDP rate of increase, even with continued usage of foreign credit resources, will be lower than in 1997, within the 4-5% range. It is probable that economic growth will also in 1998 result from market services and construction. If the weather cooperates, it can be expected that there will be a l-2% growth in agricultural production. The growth rate in industrial production should be one point higher than in 1997.
In the presence of achievement of the expected tempo of economic growth and fulfilment of the national economic policy and the NBS monetary policy, it is possible to expect that the average yearly increase in consumer prices should be from 7.5-8.5%, and the mean level of unemployment stand at 13.5%.
The actual state revenues and expenses. On the income side, a low fulfilment of tax yields was due primarily to the insufficient the economic restructuring, and lags in comparison with neighbouring transforming countries.
The rise and development of business ethics has been and is a reaction
to the partial implantation of economic rationalism, understood as pure
economic rationality without ethical norms. If economic activity is aimed
exclusively at the maximalization of profit, if it fails to take into consideration
its effect on the person, society and nature, it leads to such consequences
as the denial of basic human rights, corruption, paternalism, the undignified
wretchedness of millions of people, moral schizophrenia, the devastation
of nature and the like.
The relation between economic and ethical rationality, between profit and ethics, is the fundamental issue of business ethics. The essence of the conflict between these two rationalities lies in the dualism between the world of economics and that of morality.
The modernistic dualistic paradigm comes from the politico-economic theory of Adam Smith, differences which are continued in neoclassic economics. It can be generally claimed that neoclassic theory regards economico-technological rationalism as the complete opinion. The theoretic starting point of neoclassic economics is methodological individualism, which deals with the neoclassical model of man - homo oeconomicus.
Neoclassical economic theory and the utilitarian ethos are the basis of the neoclassic paradigm, in which utility, the maximization of usefulness, or in economic terms, the maximization of profit, appears as the basic goal.
Even though the modernist dualism of ethics and economics had its theoretic and practical bases in its own period, they have not prevailed up to the present (Etzioni). The need to integrate ethics and economics follows from the character of the thing, i.e. from the common interest in rational and optimal coordination. Human activity has many forms, it is the coordination of a number of styles, but always of the activity of rational and purpose-oriented beings. One can neither live without economics nor without morality. What will be the quality of that morality, what is judged to be the criterion of moral behaviour, is another issue.
Theoretic and practical problems arise on how to link these two ways of coordination, if economic coordination is a coordination brought about by individual interest and ethical coordination on the basis of common interest. The integrating factor of both forms of human activity coordination is business ethics, uniting strategic and practical rationality. That is why business ethics is also referred to as the integrating scientific discipline (Ulrich). The subject of investigation is therefore the conflict between economic and ethical rationality.
The concept of economic rationalism should today be widened to all levels of conduct on the principle of ethics (individual, institutional and societal). Alongside the criteria of profit, growth, performance, productivity and the like, alongside, that is, qualitative criteria, the new contents of rationality should also include criteria of ethical and social responsibility and consideration of the expected results of conduct on the individual, on the society and on the environment.
A new understanding of economic rationality in the sense of the new social paradigm, an element of which is the rise and development of business ethics, should be focused on two fundamental problems.
In the first place, it should spring, more than up to the present, from the function of economic activity in society. It should be more strongly accentuated that economics brings about the satisfaction of human needs, aids in the creation of the societal good. Its primary mission is therefore to serve life, to meet human needs and desires, to preserve the human race.
Secondly, it will become essential to give a direct, clear answer to the principal issue in changing the contents of the concept of economic rationality - what should be the relation between ethical principles and profit, where does primacy on all levels belong in the interaction of economics and ethics.
These are the central issues of business ethics, to which there are no clear-cut answers. The author of this contribution leans towards the viewpoint of those theoreticians who propose a preference for ethics over profit, so that this profit may be used for the removal of scarcity, disease, other people's tragedy, and the devastation of nature.
In an essay published in EC/EJ 1/97 named Animated Economy the author
set down and was alight his basic theoretical conception of the process
of "learning by evolution in an artificial economy". The present
contribution is, on the one hand, a simulation supplement to his former
essay and a further non-conventional explanation of the simulation of artificial
economic system problems on the other. He focused the attention of readers
first of all to one interesting problem among others, the problem of an
economy transition form the state of command economy to some type of market
economy paradigm. He noted that his approach is only one among other possible
approaches based on an artificial economy similar to that used in his former
essay and to that some more broad on-conventional economic simulation problems
in the contributions of several authors on simulation of artificial economic
The matter of the present essay is the creation of condensation cores of an infant market economy "mired" in command economy for visualization of the evolution of ontogenesis of particular condensation cores (or germs). Each of these cores evolves independently from the evolution of the others, on the base of the command economy. Their rising is realized by the immigration of agents from the command economy. There also is the possibility of immigration of capital from abroad (in several forms of foreign capital, e. g. FDI).
The whole artificial economy as in the former case consists of two parts. The first of them is the simulation model of the artificial learning agent. The second part is to the reader familiar neoclassical model accommodated for using as a hidden economy. This supplement is it necessary to read on the base of former (preliminary) essay [p. 2].
In the preliminary part of the introduction, the author puts stress on the common knowledge that or world consists of many diverse complex systems, ranging from individual living organisms such as the carnivorous, to ecosystems such as the savannah or a community of national economies as the European Union. Metaphorically speaking, the European Union is also a particular ecosystem like the rain forest or savannah. Despite their variety, complex systems like a cluster of economies have many structural shapes and functional features in common that can be effectively simulated using artificial living systems. The author is emphasising that this ability to model evolutionary systems is already having a powerful influence on analysing complexities in economic processes. It is evident, even on first sight, that processes in transitional economies belong to the class of those which are very complex.
The author writes in the first part of the introduction that phenomena, cases, episodes and stories in societies in transition belong among the most interesting fields of contemporary economic research if not in present day social science as a whole. under question is however, if mainstream economics is prepared completely to solve those topics, because at its methodological shortcomings and inadequacies (or because it has been preparing for a long period for solving other phenomena). The author's opinion is that that those are more appropriate to solve the traditional problems of "capitalist" market economies. Unfortunately the differences between civilised market economies and post-communist countries are extremely large, so the author adopted the procedures and techniques of neo-classicism with a high degree of caution.
The author on the other hand believes that because of the slowness of transitional processes, in terms of evolutionism, the economic events of societies in transition belong to the class of scientific subjects which should be accelerated to receive analysis of their true nature. It is obvious that in a naturally objective world such analyses is beyond imagination.
By the assistance of distinguished simulation models run in contemporary PCs, one can bring far future events to present time. It is apparent that the outcomes of such episodes aren't independent form the interval of time from the present instant to a future one. In other words they are the consequence of an evolutionary process, (which contain a lot of bifurcation points - in those points a great set of subjects decide among particular varieties of events and/or alternative possibilities).
The author points out that the above revealed character of the subject is not a simple fable such as path dependency. For example, he sets down that the same subjects in nearly the same situations could be decided independently in a variety of modes. Naturally, there are huge bags of similar problems matured to resolution in economics of transitional processes, however. He accepts that it is out of possibility to deal with them in that contribution. Obviously he not does mean that it isn't important for the subject.
The author's plan in the present paper has a twofold goal, on one hand to contribute to movement away from purely mental models of the transition process in post communist countries, which necessarily lack adequate precision and on the other, to movement away form purely analytical models too. Third, the common movement (upon to former, forced by original computer experimentation) with simulation models is toward more insightful and disciplined simulation models generally and particularly of formerly communist economies suitable for computer experiments. Fourth, it must be apparent to readers that this paper is actually based on previous contributions t the problems of earlier mentioned experimentations with evolutionary learning in an artificial economy whose outcomes was not explicitly published in this journal No. 1, 1997 named Animated Economy because of lack of space.
Both papers deal with comparable new streams of economic research the last few years, namely modelling the learning of a single economic agent on one hand and a population of economic agents on the other hand. The former can appear as theoretical and methodological background the for later one. The latter can be judged, among others, as a supplement to the former. So even at first sight the character of both papers is not conventional and/or traditional from several points of view.
More exactly expressed, the above discussed unconventionality linked both modelling of economic systems and also the modelling of learning behaviour of rational agents. The author emphasised that in both classes of modelling, many different models have been proposed, providing interesting insights into the phenomenon of the evolution of economic systems. For example in "classical" modelling of dynamic economic systems there are a vast number of publications with new model paradigms of simulation models and of computer software. More interesting in view of the present study is the new class of modelling of the learning behaviour of rational or bounded rational agents. For example the author expect his models to behave independently of expectations of his mind or of his will. That is what he designates the vital model of economic behaviour.
The author's vital models are other objects than creatures in the case of evolutionary algorithms - (EAs). So he enforced the simulation models (software creatures) to act as living biological organisms. It is known that their main objective is the struggle for survival by fitness. The reader can see that the author is nearer to biology, ecology and ecology than to the art of EAs. He emphasises that the pilot direction of his methodology is the struggle of existence, both in the case of single agents and of society of agents as a whole (and of both entities borough holistically). that navigator criterion is more important for "good" composition of and economic system than some consumption function and/or hedonistic utility functional.
The present essay, e. g. in the narrow explicit sense, is consisted , besides the introduction and conclusion, of three part. The part numbered as 2., and called "Some new directions in the modelling of economic systems" was submitted by the designation of an anonymous referee who focused the author's attention an the new publication of H. Dawid named "Adaptive learning by genetic algorithms". The author agrees with the referee that Dawid's contribution to the problem is very important in the present subject. So the author decided to address a little more attention to his publication and to similar others from the past few years. This is obviously some digression form the exact subject of the present article. On the other hand the need of acceptation of the newest literature form this growing part of economic science is without discussion.
Herbert Dawid intended his findings to contribute to the growing field of research dealing with the use of AI an CI techniques in economics. The author shortly summarised some of the most important contributions of his "Adaptive Learning..." He believes that Dawid is fully logging in the stream of standard AI and CI techniques applied to analysis of conventional economic problems. The author discussed with some ambivalence H. Dawid's arguments on this new field of theorising. On the other hand he is in agreement with the prevailing part of his findings presented in the above named book. For example, with such opinion that Gas, due to their decentralised structure, which very naturally resemble a group of economic agents and their interactions, is especially well suited to simulate the behaviour of an economic system. The opposite evaluation he addresses to Dawid's conclusion on another fact, his statement that in economic set-ups the fitness of single strings depending on the current state of the whole population has led to the conclusion that the analytical models which describe the behaviour of a genetic algorithm used to solve an optimisation problem can not be applied in an economic system. The author argued that his own simulations showed that conventional mathematical theories used in economics enable us not only to understand but also to predict the behaviour of Gas in economic systems.
In part No. 3 "Preliminary reflections on learning in local germ of market economy embedded in transitional economy" the author introduced some type of transition process form the so-called command economy to a market one. In the abstract view such economy consists of two domains. The one is full of command economy. The other one is empty but open for immigration of market type economic agents and primary factors (labour, capital, land), e. g. for creation of a market economy domain. Actually, the incident process of transition is carried out between two phasic brands (or phases) of some "nominal" economy. The existing, initial phase the author names "command economy" The final (target) phase he calls "market economy".
After the transition process is finished, the domain of the command economy comes to be empty and the domain of market economy come be filled by "market economy" content. The author understands this process also as some process of winnowing (or overdoing) the former economic content of the first domain through special transformation to second domain. Actually, in model representation we can such phase transition carrying out by method of creating area ( domain) of market economy "mired" into original command economy. At the beginning of the process we handle actually all the same with the seminal core of future area of market economy.
On the ground of the above preparatory statement the author constructs the starting content of the market economy domain. He assumes that as a result of so called restitution there was created some germs of portfolio content in the market economy domain. These represent the supply in the market of primary factors of production (land, capital, labour force). Form the other side of this market, there is a demand of firms for those factors. The author assumes equilibrium in this market, so he has to suppose that demand is equal to supply.
For transformation of primary factors to output the author assumes a standard (conven-tional production function, such as he used in former essay in this journal (Andrasik, 1997). The outcome of the transformation process or the output of production is depicted in Table 2.
The proper simulation of tax free zone in former (by central command) manipulated economy. The author consider three types of animate. All types of animal we endow with initially vital energy contents (IVEC). This part of the essay is very illustrative. The author uses several Tables (No. 2 - No. 14) and Pictures (No. 1 - No. 12) for this goal. Actually his proper blueprint in this part (and in all the essay too) is to illustrate the extremely complex and confused character of transition processes on the base of their computer experimentation with non-conventional simulation models.
The author supposes that for the first period of transition the agents are not capable of learning. In other words, they initially only repeat their former behaviour. On the other hand, because of better socio-economic conditions in this domain of economy, it is interesting for other agents to immigrate from the command economy domain to this market economy one. For better exhibition of the matter of transformation actions he use a slightly exaggerated figure - assuming that the dose of immigration is on the level of former state of owners of labour force.
In the conclusion of the essay the author summarised the outcomes of theorising in the area of artificial economic systems, and of experimentation on PC with unconventional simulation models generally and with special attention to the problems of transition. He also paid some interest to the problems of use of special programming "technologies". he had in mind such as genetic algorithms (GA), computational intelligence (CI), genetic programming (GP), theories of artificial life (TAL) and/or artificial society (TAS), neural networking (NN) and so on, from the point of view of their usability for economic science.
The author concludes that form the point of view of older theories based on traditional mathematical and statistical models, the present economic theories must overrun the former mostly abstract and rather simple theories by a more vital concept nearer to real economic life in non-anonymous situations. In this connection the new approach presented in the last contributions of the author and in similar ones in the fields of cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence may come to new achievements. Actually, it is hopeful to expect some new outcomes also in the qualitative sense.
This document deals with a contemporary issue, the dynamic changes in
exchange rates in small open economies which may take place as a result
of various types of disturbance in a large economy.
The author formulates a discrete model of the interaction between the large and small economy. The non-traditional signs of the small open economy used are a delayed reaction (now on the demand side, now on the supply side) to changes in the relative price of domestic goods and prices in domestic currency for imported inputs, as well as on the existence of outputs and the inertia of the price level. The first mark of the model shows that to a flexible level exists a slowed reaction in relative prices and changes in the exchange rate as a result of such factors as "removed late decision-making" and "longer-lasting agreements" connected to the greater variability of the exchange rate. Models of open economies, be they large or small, are expressed in discrete time and are used in research on the short-term effects of the exchange rate (short-term influences and first periods) on production demand, currency demand, and on interruptions of the price level touching on the larger economy.
The author also provides simulations to investigate the influences of accepting a relative accommodation of monetary policy in the large and the small economy on the short-term instability of the exchange course caused by any type of disturbance.
The conclusions and implications for economic policy following from the application of the model can be of interest to peripheral countries, for instance Turkey, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Hungary, in their relations to the European Union. The basic results found by the author include the following: The influence of the results of the disturbance on production and monetary demand and on price levels in the large economy cause devaluation of the currency of the small economy in the impact period. However, in the following period, without regard to the respective degree of monetary accommodation in both economies, the nominal exchange rate is likely to fall following any kind of disturbance. Besides this, the simulation provided shows that the extent of the "lagged devaluation" will depend on the respective degree of accommodation in both economies.
The Japanese capital market stands as a leading world market in terms of market and trade values, strength of underlying economy and volume of available domestic savings. However, the market performance has been poor since the 1990s stock crash. Excessive government fund raising, legislative barriers for involvement of financial institutions in capital market operations, over-regulation of the securities industry and lack of competition on the domestic securities markets have been the main reasons for Japan's lagging behind. In the same time the USA a EEU securities markets got into fierce announced by Mr. Hashimoto's government is to result in deregulation and liberalisation.
Unemployment is one of the most discussed topics among economists, social scientists and decision makers world-wide. This paper focuses on theoretical interpretations of causes and a possible cure to unemployment in Europe in the late 1980s and 1990s, and their practical, political consequences. It is suggested that political responses to unemployment have been, apart from some "objective" constraints such as economic recession, globalisation of markets or development of technology, also a reflection of the pwer balance between labour and capital. For decreasing unemployment in Europe while at the same time preserving the living standards of citizens, two things are crucial. a shift of the power balance towards the interests of labour, and at the supranational level, a joint effort to make the fight against unemployment a political priority. In this context the European Union could play an increasingly important role as an arena for creating a common strategy to combat unemployment in Europe.