Thursday, 17 March 2011

EU2020 strategy: European Parliament feels abandoned

On 17 February 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution 'Europe 2020' (P7_TA(2011)0068), which had been tabled by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/ALE and ECR groups.

In the larger context of the the Commission communication 'Europe 2020' and the European Council conclusions adopting the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the resolution homed in on the first 'Annual Growth Survey' from the European Commission.

Why?


Weak governance

After the lost decade of the Lisbon strategy it is hardly surprising that trust in intergovernmental policy coordination (and the heads of state or government) is low.

Discussions in the Council, the eurozone and the European Council to strengthen fiscal responsibility and to promote economic reform have tended to bring forward pacts and solutions even more intergovernmental in nature and origin.

Given the objective background and its own interests as a corporation, the European Parliament pointed towards the clay feet of the EU2020 strategy and called for strengthening of the foundations:


Governance of the Europe 2020 Strategy should be strengthened

1.  Underlines that the Europe 2020 actions are of crucial importance to the future prospects of all European citizens, delivering sustainable jobs, long-term economic growth, and social progress; fears that the Europe 2020 strategy will not be able to deliver on its promises due to its weak governance structure, and strongly urges the Council, therefore, to strengthen the Community method; reiterates the importance of integrating the EU 2020 goals into the economic governance framework and calls for the European Semester to be part of the legislative governance package, while including national parliaments and social partners at an early stage in order to foster democratic accountability, ownership and legitimacy; stresses that the achievement of Europe 2020 is essential and not optional;

2.  Considers the Annual Growth Survey and the framework of the European Semester as crucial tools for an enhanced coordination of economic policies; stresses, however, that they should not replace nor diminish the importance of the existing tools provided by the Treaty, in particular the broad economic policy guidelines and employment guidelines of Member States, in which Parliament is strongly involved and consulted; underlines the need for consistency with the achievement of the five headline targets for the Europe 2020 strategy agreed by the European Council and Commission with a view to ensuring its success;

Annual Growth Survey (AGS)

From the beginning of 2011, Europe 2020 policy co-ordination takes place in the framework of the European Semester. The first manifestation of the new planning tool was the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which presents the economic policy challenges in a nutshell:

Annual Growth Survey: advancing the EU's comprehensive response to the crisis; Brussels, 12.1.2010 COM(2011) 11 final (10 pages)

On substance, the call from the Commission is clear (page 3):

To avoid stagnation, unsustainable debt trends, accumulated imbalances and ensure its competitiveness, Europe needs to accelerate the consolidation of its public finances, the reform of its financial sector and to frontload structural reforms now.

The communication from the Commission sets out ten priority actions. The AGS is the ”catechism” of the economic policy and reform discussion in the European Union right now.

However, it seems to speak exclusively at or with the heads of state or government (European Council), even if the Annual Growth Survey ”is also transmitted to the European Parliament and to the other Institutions and national parliaments”.

Is this a winning formula for the EU2020 strategy where the Lisbon strategy failed?



Ralf Grahn



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