The Annual growth survey (AGS) 2012 was published by the Commission end of 2011 and marks the opening of the European Semester, within the Europe 2020 Strategy. The AGS sets out what the Commission believes must be the EU’s priorities for 2012 in terms of economic and budgetary policies and reforms to boost growth and employment under the Europe 2020 strategy.
Once endorsed by the March European Council, these priorities will have to be taken into consideration by the Member States in their national policies and budgets.
The EESC opinion on the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2012 is issued by the EESC as a contribution to the Spring 2012 European Council.
In its Part I, the draft opinion presents key messages to the European Council. It comments on general issued related to the AGS.
The Committee reiterates its full support to the overarching Europe 2020 strategy that offers a positive vision for the future and a coherent framework for carrying out forward-looking reforms for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
It considers that the EU needs to move beyond the current emergency piecemeal approach to the crisis, taking lasting solutions to the structural challenges that this crisis has exposed, thus ensuring the well-being of Europeans in the long term.
The opinion welcomes the AGS's general focus on growth and reiterates that the three aspects of growth - smart, sustainable and inclusive - are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. Emphasis on growth-enhancing reforms is needed in all member states.
The draft opinion expresses concern about the heavy weight given to austerity measures. It considers that the right balance needs to be struck between fiscal consolidation and growth. Fiscal discipline by itself and austerity will not suffice to put the EU on a sustainable path.
The document strongly supports the Commission for the great emphasis it is putting throughout the AGS on the lack of proper implementation of reforms by European institutions and by Member States. The Committee is gravely concerned about this lack of implementation and considers that more than ever, the EU needs to demonstrate its capacity to act to restore the confidence of consumers and investors and to give ambitious answers to current challenges.
The Europe 2020 growth strategy can only be achieved if the whole society feels committed and each of the actors takes his/her full responsibility. In a time when important decisions impacting the lives of all stakeholders are taken, their co-ownership of reforms is more then ever necessary.
The Committee calls for a better, effective involvement of organised civil society stakeholders in the European semester: at the EU level, as regards the AGS and the drafting of country specific recommendations and at the national level throughout the process of drafting, implementing and monitoring future NRPs.
The Part II of the opinion brings together specific comments and recommendations on various EU policies, such as employment, research and innovation, industry, trade, Single Market, transport, energy, trade, etc. These contributions come from various recent EESC opinions and update the Committee’s position on the AGS 2011 adopted in March 2011. They answer in detail to the five priorities put forward by the Commission in the AGS.