Annual Growth Survey 2016: Strengthening the recovery and fostering convergence

EESC opinion: Annual Growth Survey 2016: Strengthening the recovery and fostering convergence

Key points

  • The 2016 AGS contains much more in the way of social analysis, objectives and goals, but for this new approach to be effective, it should not be based on the reiteration of the policy recommendations of previous years. The Committee advocates the full participation of civil society, via economic and social councils and similar organisations, in social policies and national reform plans.
  • The EESC expresses its concern over high unemployment, which is an issue in certain Member States in particular. 22.5 million people in the EU are unemployed (17.2 million in the euro area) and no noticeable improvement is expected in the next two years. The high number of people at risk of poverty or exclusion registered in 2014 (24.4% or 122 million people - EU 28) and the trend of recent years raise serious questions about the fulfilment of one of the fundamental objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
  • The EESC recommends that the 2016 AGS must place more emphasis on strengthening governance in order to effectively carry out the major European policies on market integration and modernising the economy. The Committee welcomes the decision to strengthen follow-up of the Europe 2020 targets and to divide the Semester into European and national phases as it will enable better determination of who is responsible for achieving the set objectives. Investments to bring about energy transition (Paris Agreement) must become a source of job creation and economic development.
  • In view of the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, the EESC proposes measures based on joint action and solidarity, respect for international law and values, equal treatment and the need to prioritise life over any other considerations primarily based upon "security" policies. Furthermore, it confirms that the Schengen agreement is a fundamental pillar of the EU's architecture.