The biggest challenge now facing Europe's economy is how to sustain the recovery that is now underway. This is the main message of the 2014 Annual Growth Survey (AGS). Its adoption kicks off the fourth European Semester of economic policy coordination in an environment where growth is beginning to return and Member States are making progress on correcting the imbalances that developed before the crisis.
The 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which launches the European semester, sets out what the Commission believes should be the overall budgetary, economic and social priorities for the this year. Given the importance of the involvement of the organised civil society and the social partners in setting priorities for action at the national and EU level, the EESC issues its opinion as a contribution to the debates ahead of the Spring European Council.
The EU needs to enhance the growth part of its overall strategy. This must be based on combining what the Member States can do at national level with action at EU level, anchoring these efforts in the Europe 2020 strategy and in our new governance structures.
The Committee's opinion, prepared in view of the Spring European Council, comments on the Commission’s ‘Annual growth survey’ (AGS) 2012.
In the first part, it deals with general issues related to the AGS such as: its focus on growth, on fiscal consolidation and on the implementation of reforms agreed in the framework of the European semester as well as the implication of organised civil society and social partners in the AGS process.
The second part brings together specific contributions from various EESC opinions that were adopted in 2011 in relation to the five AGS priorities: pursuing differentiated, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; restoring normal lending to the economy; promoting growth and competitiveness; tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis; and modernising public administration. These comments update the EESC’s position on the AGS 2011 that was adopted in March 2011.
The "Agenda for new skills and jobs" is one of the seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 Strategy. It proposes actions within four key priorities in order to reach an employment rate of 75% by 2020. In its opinion the EESC broadly welcomes the European Commission initiative but puts forward a number of comments and recommendations. For instance, the Committee finds that the proposed initiative fails to encapsulate the urgent need to create good-quality jobs. It does not constitute a sufficient stimulus to Member States to set more ambitious national goals backed by the necessary investment and structural reforms.