Today the European Commission announces measures aiming to step up the integration of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), without changes to the treaties.
These measures, which are included in the report of the 'five presidents' on the completion of EMU by 2025, aim to the creation of a European system of national competitiveness authorities.
The EESC has approved in the September Plenary an important opinion on this subject.
Gabriele Bischoff, rapporteur and President of the Workers' Group, has presented a list of detailed and concrete proposals:
- A genuine stabilization of the economic and monetary union (EMU) can only succeed if faults in the EMU's construction are rectified and major reforms are undertaken to accomplish this. This requires a change to the treaties as part of a convention. Since this is unrealistic before 2018, in the meantime other measures must be taken to enhance the democratic and social dimension of the EMU within the framework of the existing treaties and to ensure that the self-imposed rules are followed.
- The longer the current savings-oriented policy – primarily focused on making spending cuts – continues without an effective investment plan to generate revenue through growth, social cohesion and solidarity, it will become increasingly clear that Europe's economic integration and prosperity is at risk from growing social inequalities.
- Continuing on the current course is therefore not an option. Instead, social, political and economic cohesion must be strengthened to avert a break-up of the euro area. The EESC agrees that divergences in the EMU economies must be given greater consideration and that balanced structural reforms in these countries must be introduced to reflect the requirements of a monetary union and in accordance with national requirements, in order to ensure the necessary convergence. In addition, the EESC believes that short-term demand management is essential.
- The EESC calls for greater "parliamentarisation" of the euro area, with a grand EP committee comprising all members of parliament from the euro area and from those countries wishing to join (26 Member States), combined with stronger coordination of members of parliament from the euro area on EMU issues (COSAC +). This could get under way in a relatively short time.
- The EESC points out that some of the economic policy goals of economic governance of recent years must be brought more into line with the EU's social policy objectives under Article 4(2) TFEU and possible conflicts between economic and social objectives should be resolved. All measures under the European Semester – in accordance with the horizontal social clause – must be subject to a social impact assessment.These results should be made public and discussed at national and European level. The EESC can support this within the framework of its competences.
- The removal of divergences in the functioning of labour markets, wage-setting systems and welfare systems also plays an important role in a democratic and social EMU.
- The EESC is convinced that macroeconomic dialogue in the euro area (MED-EURO) can make a key contribution to the democratic and social development of the EMU, the outcomes and conclusions of which should be taken into account both when drawing up the Annual Growth Survey and in the scoreboard and country-specific recommendations. The macroeconomic dialogue should be urgently reestablished to meet the social and economic obligation, as prewired by the treaties.