The effect of the current financial and economic crisis has put energy pricing under the spotlight because of the impact on household energy costs in the context of austerity and on industrial competitiveness of high energy prices. The importance of Market Based Instruments (MBI) is that they must both advance the transition to a resource-efficient and low carbon economy and support economic recovery. Environmental and climate policies should not be seen as a burden in the recovery from the fiscal and economic and social crisis, but rather as a part of the solution. The Committee urges the Commission to make environmental fiscal reform an integral and permanent part of the European Semester.
The Committee welcomes the increased attention brought to social investment, a greater targeting of European funds to sound employment and social policies, a dedicated youth employment initiative and youth guarantee scheme, and better cross-border mobility. It also welcomes the foreseen strengthened social dialogue as part of the European Semester process. It particularly supports the idea to step up closer surveillance of employment and social imbalances within the EMU through a systematic monitoring of rates of unemployment, of young people not in employment or training or education, of household income, poverty and inequality. The proposed scoreboard should pro-actively detect asymmetric developments and spill-over into overall economic performance and trigger a timely and effective adjustment mechanism and policy response.
A coherent Industrial Policy requires far better governance – the EESC position. The EESC welcomes very much the focused attention to Europe's industry, as expressed in the Commission's update on Industrial policy of October 2012. The present opinion insists on a change of mind-set in the Member States (MS) and the EU Council. It stresses the need of coherent decision-making on a wide variety of issues, and effective governance at EU level. Only then industrial policy can become a building block of an EU Growth Initiative of which there is still little effective action.
The EESC welcomes initiatives to foster productive investment and the formation of long-lived tangible and intangible capital but urges the Commission to give greater attention to the need to finance more "socially useful" capital investment. If banks are likely to play a less prominent role in the future as providers of long-term financing, then opportunities may arise for other intermediaries such as national and multilateral development banks, institutional investors, sovereign funds and, crucially, bond markets. The EESC welcomes the recent recapitalisation of the EIB as this will strengthen its ability to leverage additional private investment finance and to play a stronger countercyclical role in investment funding and credit supply to SMEs..
The EESC welcomes the proposal put forward by the Commission to introduce the world's first regional financial transaction tax (FTT). The Committee believes that its application at regional level (EU11+ zone) could constitute an exceptional opportunity, which could lead to its future application worldwide. The Committee believes that the introduction of this tax within the EU11+ will foster the establishment of a single financial market. The Committee believes that, in order to maximise the impact of the tax on economic growth, the revenue that it raises should be channelled into a programme of investment at national and EU levels capable of delivering economic recovery and jobs in the short term.