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The EESC appreciates the European Commission's effort to apply an economic policy that focuses on supporting the strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the euro area as well as a balanced mix of monetary, fiscal and structural instruments in order to achieve this, including a positive fiscal stance.
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. Against this background the Committee advocates the exploration of tools to improve economic governance in the EMU, for instance by creating a permanent Euro Finance Minister, while ensuring full democratic accountability. Bundling competences would enhance coherence of EMU policies.
The international economic and financial crisis exposed the structural limitations and contradictions in EMU, depriving the euro of its propensity to attract. The EESC believes that the single currency will be unsustainable unless we achieve convergence between the economic capacities of the euro area countries and improve overall competitiveness, objectives which require economic as well as political commitment. The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance stresses stability without proposing joint financial instruments for recovery and employment. Europe needs to go back to generating wealth in order to redistribute it fairly. Briefly, these are the EESC's four recommendations for completing the euro framework, i.e.
The Committee gives a guarded welcome to the two communications from the Commission on the introduction of a Competitiveness and Convergence Instrument and on ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms. It is disappointing that they provide little additional detail to the concepts already outlined in the Blueprint, which therefore renders assessment difficult. While these two proposals could be a help to Member States in difficulty, restoring growth and capacity to the most needy areas may be hampered or delayed because the focus of concern is that the measures taken must also benefit the euro area as a whole. The Committee questions the added value of a CCI and the additional bureaucratic burden that the proposed ex-ante coordination may bring. The EESC wishes to continue the debate as developments evolve.
The EESC welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe as a step in the right direction, which however faces serious questions about the Plan's size and timescale, the high degree of leverage expected and the potential flow of suitable projects. The Plan proposes that contributions to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) from Member States will not be included in budget deficit calculations and this is to be welcomed, but it begs the question as to why ongoing strategic public infrastructure expenditures are not treated in the same way. Strategic public investment which underpins present and future economic development should be incentivised by a more benign European fiscal framework.