This opinion is in line with previous EESC opinions on the AGS. It updates and complements them, looks ahead to the prospects for 2015 and builds on the conclusions of several recent opinions. The EESC feels that the priorities of the 2014 AGS do not tie in closely enough with the Europe 2020 strategy and its quantified targets.
The Committee is concerned about the uncertainties identified in the AGS, such as the correlation between failing banks and sovereign debts or decreased demand in emerging countries, the fragmentation of the financial system, and high unemployment levels. These uncertainties undermine prospects and stand in the way of growth.
It acknowledges that the existence of social and economic disparities makes it difficult to set uniform priorities valid throughout the European Union. In order to draw up relevant country-specific recommendations, the Committee recommends specific measures to ensure dialogue between the Commission and civil society, and to strengthen social dialogue.
The Committee is pleased that an explicit link has been made between the spring Tripartite Social Summit and the European Semester process. It would also like the AGS to be accompanied by a report on the state of play with regard to the Europe 2020 strategy.
The Committee calls for the scoreboard of social indicators to be proactively included in the European Semester on an equal footing with macroeconomic and budgetary indicators. Furthermore, the European Semester's objectives, methods and instruments should continue to include the greening of existing industrial processes in each sector and of the economy as a whole, in order to ensure economic recovery based on a more sustainable model of development.
Finally, this opinion has been drawn up with the March 2014 European Council conclusions in mind; it is also intended to feed into the mid-term review of the EU 2020 strategy. The EU must show ordinary Europeans that it has the political will and detailed vision to bring about deeper integration in order to achieve a "better Europe", i.e. "more Europe" in certain policy areas.