2019 Annual Growth Survey: no grounds for complacency

Given the mixed results of past reform policies, it is essential that the EU and the Member States conduct an in-depth evaluation. Despite improvements to date, further reforms and political measures are needed to boost growth and strengthen cohesion and the social dimension of policies, says the EESC in its opinion on the 2019 Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

The EESC criticises the Commission's broadly favourable assessment in the AGS of both economic and social progress since 2014 and past reform policies. Economic growth in the EU as a whole is still slower than before the crisis and differences within and between regions need to be considered. The AGS certainly does not suggest that we can rest on our laurels.

The EESC welcomes the Commission's commitment to supporting reforms. Reforms and policies should make the economy and labour markets more resilient and so improve growth in the economy and productivity. They must also demonstrate a real commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights and international climate goals. Unfortunately, the AGS fails to provide adequate proposals for their implementation and financing.

The AGS also lacks proposals for countering external risks to growth. Stimulus policies to maintain growth and employment levels should be framed and budgeted accordingly. High-quality investment in education and training, as proposed in the AGS, would be welcome in this context.

The social partners and civil society could help speed up the work on new policy proposals and make sure that reforms are country-specific, suitable and practical.

Lastly, the EESC is pleased that the Commission gives priority to reforms to increase private and public sector investment. EU fiscal rules should allow for funding from national budgets for socially and economically productive investment that does not threaten future budget sustainability. (jk)