EESC recommends EC push for deeper economic integration in its 2016 priorities
Representatives of European organised civil society have set out a series of recommendations as input to the European Commission's 2016 annual Work Programme. Ahead of tomorrow's planned debate in the College of Commissioners, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) puts forward its views on the main priorities for the EU in 2016 – from the economy to the democratic renewal of the European project.
Having witnessed huge turbulences in the Eurozone and slow progress towards a European social model in 2015, the EESC warns that 2016 has to deliver on European citizens' expectations. The Committee is determined to support the European Commission in its commitment to bring back growth to Europe, with a welcomed "Investment Plan for Europe", and has highlighted the following key areas for action amongst the 10 priorities set by President Juncker:
1. Accelerate economic integration (Eurozone) and convergence (EU-28)
If there is a single lesson from the Greek crisis, it is that deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is of primary importance. The EU has to deepen its current model with measures to tackle high levels of unemployment and investments which generate growth and demand. Notably, access to finance should be improved to stimulate the real economy, via the launch of a Capital Markets Union. Equally,social investment, a driver for EU countries' convergence, should be deducted from the countries budget deficit calculation and social indicators/impact assessments should be included in the European Semester exercise. A fair taxation system should be put in place which would include a common corporate tax base between Member States and information exchange mechanisms to combat fraud and tax avoidance.
2. Set up a strategic framework for the Energy Union
A reliable and transparent governance system should be set up for Energy Union and for the implementation of the 2030 framework for energy and climate policies. This should be linked to the European Energy Dialogue. This common energy policy should also deliver a reduction of energy costs for households and businesses; it should ensure the security of energy supply and the development of a renewable energy action plan.
3. Better regulation for increased democracy and consultation
The EESC supports the European Commission's agenda on Better Regulation, provided that it improves democracy in the EU and is not made at the cost of social and environmental rights. Participatory democracy should be strengthened and civil society properly involved in the decision-making process. Therefore, European Citizens' Initiatives should be promoted and given greater consideration, as well as the inclusion of national Economic and Social Councils in the dialogue between the Commission and national Parliaments.
Building on lessons from recent events, the EESC also calls for a new policy on Migration based on human rights, solidarity and humanity, where its expertise from steering the European Migration Forum could be used notably to assist in developing and adopting a common disembarkation and search and rescue policy, as well as facilitating access to Europe via legal channels.
"I hope that with today's EESC contribution to the European Commission's 2016 work programme that the Commission will see Civil Society, through the leading voice of the EESC, as an important partner in defining priorities for 2016 which live up to the expectations of European citizens." said Henri Malosse, President of the EESC yesterday.
Note to the editor
- The EESC contribution to the EC Work Programme is foreseen in the Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, signed in 2012. Under point 1 "Institutional and administrative relations": "In the first semester of each year, the Committee will make known its key political priorities regarding the Commission's work programme for the following year."
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