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EU semester 2015: recommendations for economic and social improvement


Parliament voted on Wednesday to back the European Commission's approach to stimulating growth and job creation, following a debate on "European Semester” coordination of EU countries’ economic policies in 2015, with Commission Vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioners Marianne Thyssen (social affairs) and Elzbieta Bieńkowska (single market and SMEs).

The Commission's economic policies were examined from three different angles, resulting in three separate resolutions, prepared by three different committees. All three were approved by large majorities of MEPs.

Annual Growth Survey 2015

Parliament backed the Commission's three-pillar approach for growth and recovery, based on investment, structural reforms and growth-friendly fiscal consolidation, in a vote on an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee resolution.

"Reforms and fiscal consolidation are the right way to reduce unemployment and poverty in the member states most affected by the financial crisis, and help the euro area to return to sustainable growth", said Dariusz Rosati (EPP, PL) who steered the report through Parliament.

In the resolution MEPs call for more involvement of national parliaments in the European Semester talks, more national ownership of the country-specific recommendations, only 9% of which were implemented in 2013, and more action on them.

They also set out recommendations for making Europe more competitive and resilient, and hence better able to withstand future crises, inter alia by starting to integrate capital markets, fighting tax fraud and evasion, completing the EU’s internal energy market and making labour markets more efficient.

Single market governance

In a resolution on single market governance, drafted by Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (EPP, HU) for the Internal Market Committee, MEPs reiterate their call to further integrate the single market in the European Semester talks (10) and urge EU member states to enable the Commission to present its country-specific recommendations in national parliaments before they are approved by the Council of Ministers (17).

"The single market's governance must be improved if it is to promote and facilitate growth, but also to serve as a benchmark for commitment to structural reform in the member states", said Ms Gáll-Pelcz.

Social affairs and employment

MEPs call for more flexibility in implementing reforms in member states in dire financial straits, so as to ensure that stability measures are compatible with growth, job creation and the welfare state, in a resolution on the employment and social aspects of the European Semester, drafted by Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D, ES) for the Employment and Social Affairs Committee.

Parliament also points out that labour market reforms in many member states have not reduced job precarity. It notes that 43% of young people work on precarious terms, such as part-time contracts or as bogus self-employed, and recommends putting more effort into creating quality jobs for them.

"The European Parliament supports investment and fiscal responsibility, but these should always be compatible with economic growth and creating decent jobs, social responsibility and the European social model", said Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto.

The Gutiérrez Prieto report was approved by 477 votes to 203, with 23 abstentions.

Storified wrap-up of the debate, including background material
Adopted texts will be available here (click on 11.03.2015)
Video recording of debate (click on 11.03.2015)
EP Research: European Semester: Annual Growth Survey 2015
Summary of the implementation of the 2014 Country Specific Recommendations
Summary of the implementation of the 2013 Country Specific Recommendations
Draft report on economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2015
Draft report on Single Market governance within the European Semester 2015
Draft report on Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2015