littorineesc160709001A busy and rich plenary session continued early this morning with a visit from the Swedish Minister for Employment, Sven Otto Littorin, speaking on behalf of the incoming Swedish Presidency of the European Union. Although he didn’t underestimate the extent of the crisis still unfolding, Littorin delivered an upbeat message to the plenary. In effect, he was reporting back on the discussions that the employment ministers had held at their informal Council meeting in Jönköping. The question of labour market exclusion had been at the heart of their concerns and there had been much swapping of experiences – bad as well as good, Littorin pointed out; ‘we should all learn from each other’s mistakes as well as copy best practices.’ Littorin’s basic point was a simple but strong one; it is better to keep people in employment than to have them, in one form or another, as reluctant dependents. Littorin unfolded a sheaf of notes before speaking but, like Joe Borg the previous day, was clearly the master of his dossiers. He punctuated his speech and replies with homely examples based on his personal experiences. I noted down one saying of his grandmother; ‘Work creates health and wealth.’