Written Answers. - Partnership 2000.

John Bruton

Question:

40 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent meeting with the social partners. [1210/99]

John Bruton

Question:

41 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach when the annual meeting of all parties to Partnership 2000, convened by the Taoiseach as provided for in the agreement, will be held in 1999; when the last meeting was held; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1218/99]

John Bruton

Question:

42 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach the steps, if any, he proposes to take in 1999 to further develop the social partnership process. [1219/99]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

43 Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the plenary meeting of Partnership 2000 central review committee on 26 January 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1915/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 to 43, inclusive, together.

I attach high priority to maintaining close ongoing contact with the social partners, on both a formal and informal basis. My most recent formal engagements took place in the context of the inaugural meetings of NESC and NESF on 4 and 12 November respectively, on which I have already reported to the House. In addition, I chair one of the quarterly Partnership 2000 plenary meetings each year. The most recent was last July's plenary and my next such engagement will probably be in July this year.

Yesterday's plenary meeting focused principally on the themes of Competitiveness and Agriculture, Forestry and Food (including Rural Exclusion). Also on the agenda were presentations of Budget '99 and the draft report of the Expert Group on Child Care.

Throughout this year, the focus will be on the twin aims of completing the implementation of Partnership 2000 and paving the way towards a successor agreement. In that latter regard, the NESC has been asked to prepare a new strategy report which would form the basis for a successor, while the NESF has been asked to take on a new role in developing policies and the programmes to tackle long-term unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. It will also have an important contribution to make in evaluating the effectiveness of policies within the context of both the social partnership agreements and the national anti-poverty strategy. Another key priority throughout 1999 will be the promotion of partnership at workplace level. This work will be led by the National Centre for Partnership, in which both IBEC and ICTU are active participants.