Manfred Weber, Chairman of the European People's Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament, addresses the EEP meeting in Athens, Greece, on Feb. 7, 2019. The creation of new job positions across the European Union to support growth is a top priority for the European People's Party (EPP), Weber said on Thursday in Athens. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The creation of new job positions across the European Union to support growth is a top priority for the European People's Party (EPP), Chairman of EPP Group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber said on Thursday in Athens.
EPP members convened in the Greek capital for a two-day meeting to discuss in particular youth unemployment and ways to create more opportunities for work ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections this May.
Weber, who is also a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, outlined a five-year plan which foresees the creation of 5 million new jobs throughout the bloc.
Under EPP's proposal, the EU should focus on innovation, ambitious trade agreements, investments in infrastructure and a strong social economy in the market, among others to support job creation, development and prosperity for all.
"I dream about a Europe where we have a situation where nobody is forced anymore to leave his home or his nation only due to economic reasons. That was the past, but should not be the future," Weber said in statements to reporters after the meeting's opening session.
Greece was chosen for one of the final conferences of the group before the May elections, he explained, because the country was tested hard in recent years due to the debt crisis.
"Because we have on one hand an important year for Greece and we have on the other hand an important year for the Europe. And we want to show unity; we want to show that EPP has a clear plan," he said.
Greece exited last summer the painful bailout programs which kept her afloat and in the euro zone since 2010 and is holding general elections by autumn this year.
Weber expressed his certainty that Greece's main opposition New Democracy (ND) party will win the elections taking over from a "populist" Left-led government and a new chapter will open for the country, as well as for the entire bloc.
"Athens is for us the place to talk about jobs, about growth and jobs. We need to open a new chapter of future orientation... It is crucial for Greece, but not only for Greece. It is crucial for European Union as a whole," he stressed.
On his part, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed EPP members' conviction that Weber will be the next President of the European Commission, underlining that Europe today needs his bridge-building skills.
EPP's economic agenda for the European Parliament elections matches the positions of New Democracy for the full recovery of Greek economy, he said.
His party's priority is the creation of new quality jobs, Mitsotakis explained.
"The new jobs our country needs will be created at the private sector through private investments. They will be created if we reduce taxation, if we improve the environment for doing business, if we encourage Greeks, big companies as well as small and medium sized companies to invest in their land," he told a joint press conference with Weber.